SUPER RUGBY PREVIEW : Force vs Waratahs

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The Force will hope to upset a rather below-average Waratahs side when they meet on Saturday at the nib Stadium in Perth.

Following their narrow loss to seven-time champions the Crusaders last week, the home side will be going into this fixture with even more confidence after being on the winning end in three of the last five encounters between the two teams.

Like most Australian derbies we can expect matters to go down to the wire. This one will be no different and should it live up to this presumption it could come down to who has the better form off the tee.

With former Stormers’ pivot Peter Grant in their ranks, the home side will fancy their chances to tip the scales should Grant continue with his accurate goal-kicking form.

The visitors will be punished by the Perth outfit if they do not cut down on their amount of penalties, with an average of eleven per game, so the ‘Tahs will not want to give the in-from Grant any unnecessary attempts at goal.

Veteran forward Dave Dennis is set to make his 100th Super Rugby appearance for the Waratahs since his debut in 2007.

Dennis has been an inspirational figure for the Sydneysiders and they will rely on him, once again, given their rather poor start to this year’s competition, to continue his fine form at the lineout.

The new look centre pairing of Israel Folau and Wallaby bad-boy Kurtley Beale will be called upon to not only set up a few elusive runs but also put some big hits in.

The 2014 champions will have to avoid Force captain Matt Hodgson’s channel – the loose forward has made the most tackles, 14, by a single player so far in the competition. However his opposite number, ‘Tahs skipper Michael Hooper, is hot on his heels with an average tackle count of 12 per game.

If the past few games is anything to go by, whichever of these two stalwart back-rowers gains the upper hand, they will most certainly provide their side the advantage needed to claim the win.

Previous results:

2015: Force won 18-11 in Perth
2015: Force won 25-13 in Sydney
2014: Force won 28-16 in Perth
2014: Waratahs won 21-43 in Sydney
2013: Waratahs won 13-28 in Perth
2013: Waratahs won 19-23 in Sydney
2012: Waratahs won 18-23 in Perth
2012: Force won 21-20 in Sydney

The Teams:

Western Force: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Marcel Brache, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Junior Rasolea, 11 Semisi Masirewa, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Steve Mafi, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Heath Tessmann, 1 Francois van Wyk
Replacements: 16 Harry Scoble, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Rory Walton, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Ryan Louwrens, 22 Kyle Godwin, 23 Albert Nikoro

Waratahs: 15 Andrew Kellaway, 14 Reece Robinson, 13 Israel Folau, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Jed Holloway, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Will Skelton, 4 David Dennis, 3 Tom Robertson, 2 Hugh Roach, 1 Paddy Ryan
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Dean Mumm, 20 Wycliff Palu, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 David Horwitz, 23 Matt Carraro

Date: Saturday, April 23
Venue: nib Stadium, Perth
Kick-off: 17:40 local (09:40 GMT)
Referee: Rohan Hoffmann
Assistant Referees: Will Houston, Michael Hogan
TMO: Peter Marshall


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