Can the Force follow up?
An undercooked, listless and some cases, obese Waratahs side were put to the sword by a hungry and disciplined Western Force last weekend. It was a terrific start to the campaign for our boys from Perth, but the question remains, had it more to do with the Waratahs incompetence or the brilliant execution from the Force?
It was only the first game of the year, and in a weekend of shocks, which saw the Sharks humbled and the Crusaders defeated, it is difficult to discern a line of form. The second week of action should divulge more information on where various sides actually stand.
The one result from last weekend, that left no room for interpretation, was the horrific defeat the Reds suffered at the hands of the Brumbies. So where exactly are the reds at? They were outmuscled upfront and continually penalized for discipline infringements. Their backline never fired, and Karmichael Hunt looked devoid of ideas as to how to breach the Canberra side’s defences. They fell off tackles like rain off a windshield.
In the last twenty four hours, headlines have emerged about Mr Hunt, which can only be disruptive to the squad’s focus. James O’Connor was initially named as the number ten for this week’s match, but rumour has it that he may or may not be fit to play. Former All-Black, Adam Thompson, makes his competitive debut for the Force, and a player of his experience should stiffen the resolve of the reds.
James Horwill, normally a totemic figure for the Brisbane side, looked disinterested and frustrated. Perhaps it is Adam Thompson who will provide that leadership that the Reds were so clearly lacking last weekend?
The Western Force must be absolutely chomping at the bit for this week’s match. Normally there would be an air of caution about their approach to taking on the Reds and they may even allude to it in the media, but I can’t shake the feeling that they will really fancy themselves this week behind closed doors.
Against the Waratahs, the Force resumed where they left off last season, applying their busy-bee counter-punching style. They had the look of a well drilled, fit and motivated side that absorbed pressure and forced mistakes. The only two parts of their game that weren’t exceptional were their scrum and their place kicking.
Now to my prediction:
The Reds were absolutely atrocious last week, and one wonders could it possibly get any worse? The answer for me is, unfortunately for the reds, a resounding yes. Karmichael Hunt has destabilized a rattled side even further with his antics, and they have had to possibly turn to James O’Connor to step into the breach. The mere sight of James O’Connor, and indeed Richard Graham, will undoubtedly galvanise the Force to herculean efforts.
The reds forward pack proved incredibly vulnerable to a hard-nosed and physical forward pack who denied them quick ball in the Brumbies last week. It’s no secret that the Force are going to try and repeat the dose, and I expect the Force forwards to really put it on them. Led by Alby Mathewson and Chris Alcock, the Western Force will turn the screw on Genia and the Reds Loose forwards, and I will be amazed if the Reds will be able to rise to the occasion. Adam Thompson is going to have to summon the sort of performance that would put him up for selection, in the front lines of the Spartans at the pass in Thermopylae, to deny the Force victory here in my opinion.
Relax Force fans, he might be an All Black, but he isn’t Ritchie McCaw.
I can see no alternative but a convincing Force victory, by around 16.
Over and out,