For the first time this year the Western Force are set to collide with the Cape Town Stormers to end their road trip in South Africa.
The Stormers have not been a good looking kit this year, and looking at the scoreboard from their previous games it seems their defense is what is letting them down, giving up over 28 points in each of their last three games. The Western Force have been quite the opposite of this, only giving up nine points against the Bulls and 16 points against the Cheetahs (a team the Stormers gave up 35 points to).
The Western Force have been in great form since returning from the bye. They have improved on their offense, being one of their weaker points and their defense has continued to simply dominate other teams. The Force will be looking for win number eight this season, which would cement their record at 8-3. Currently, at 7-3 the Force (historically) need to win three more games to secure a position in the Super Rugby playoffs.
Here is what you need to take into account before watching this game.
Can the Force win in Cape Town?
The Force are 4-2 on the road this year, with one of those victories coming out of New Zealand and another last weekend in Bloemfontein against the Cheetahs. It is hard to know if this road dominance will continue to translate into wins, after being in South Africa for around two weeks now. The Force have not played in Cape Town as of yet so it is difficult to know a) how they will perform at the venue and b) how they will perform against the Stormers team.
Will the Force have a let down?
The Force are coming off three wins in a row, which in Super Rugby is hard to maintain. Going for four wins in a row seems like it could be a stretch, especially when people believe the Force are not particularly strong in South Africa. The Force could benefit energy-wise, coming off a win against the Cheetahs but whoever comes out of the gates firing will have the edge in this game.
Marcel Brache vs Stormers
After joining the Force in 2014, Marcel Brache has had an impressive season on both offense and defense. This weekend he lines up against his former team. Looking at Marcel's performance he played his best offensive rugby in South Africa against the Bulls with some fancy offloads, one of them leading to the Jason Hayward try. Brache will shift from outside back to the wing for this game in replace of Dane Haylett-Penny (groin).
Two Western Force Debuts
Perth-born back Luke Burton will make his Super Rugby debut at only 20 years old, coming off the bench to play inside centre. Chris Tuatara-Morrison will make his starting debut in Super Rugby playing outside centre. Tuatara-Morrison has looked very impressive since his debut against the Waratahs and his tackling is truly something to admire.
Un-changed Force forward pack
This is the forward pack that only let the Bulls maul up the field once. Yes, the forward pack that no one had faith in at the beginning of the season, and what I believe to be the most under-rated forward pack in Super Rugby. Last week five out of eight of these forwards were named in the Australian Conference team of the week, and in previous weeks the entire back row of the team of the week has been made up of Force players. The single change to the forwards this week will be Patrick Dellit coming into the squad, however he will be playing off the bench.
Prediction: Force win 28-18
The odds on paper are against the Force, and favour the Stormers to win quite heavily. However, I just can't see the Stormers offense getting past the defense consistently, especially the Force are backed up against their own line.
It's not as though the Stormers haven't generated offense though, they have been scoring well, however this has generally been against weaker teams such as the Bulls and Highlanders. The Force defense is very under rated and have dominated much stronger teams.
Written by Luke Worthington - Page Editor