Force still aiming to break into finals - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Force still aiming to break into finals

By David Beniuk 17/04/2009 08:16:44 PM Comments (0)

Western Force skipper Nathan Sharpe says the Super 14 finals, and not the bragging rights that would come with an Australian derby "slam", will be uppermost in his players' minds when they take on the NSW Waratahs on Saturday night.

A first-ever win over the Waratahs, after two losses and a draw since the Force joined Super rugby in 2006, would give the Perth-based side a sweep of their Australian rivals in 2009.

They beat the Brumbies 25-16 in round three in Canberra and thrashed Queensland 39-7 in Perth two weeks ago.

But Wallaby lock Sharpe said the "slam" was the furthest thing from his players' minds as they prepare for a do or die encounter with NSW at the Sydney Football Stadium.

"No, it is more where you finish up on the table," he told reporters on Friday.

"If that is a by-product, then that's great but it is never a goal at the start of the year.

"You want to focus as getting as high as possible on the table."

The Force are currently 10th but are effectively just four points behind the fourth-placed Waratahs, who have a bye next week.

Asked if spoiling the Waratahs' chances appealed, Sharpe said: "Yeah, definitely. We have our own plans to get there and it is a big game for both teams."

NSW will need to limit the influence of Force five-eighth Matt Giteau, but Waratahs coach Chris Hickey said smothering the players around the Wallaby ace would be equally important.

"You have to have strong awareness of how he plays and have some strategies for that," Hickey said.

"But if you focus too much on one player then it's the players around him that will do the damage to you, and he is very good at setting up his support players.

"We have an awareness of him and some ideas of how we want to play him."

Sharpe said Giteau and teenage centre James O'Connor would be ready for whatever traffic the Waratahs directed their way.

"That's something we encounter week-in, week-out with those guys in the midfield," Sharpe said.

"Both of those guys have tremendous courage, it is not an area of concern for us."

The Force suffered a heartbreaking 28-27 last gasp loss to the Hurricanes last week and Sharpe said the side was itching to get back onto the field to make amends.

"It's funny, usually you are happy with an eight-day turnaround, but ... it was a long couple of days after Friday night," he said.

"The guys have refocused well this week, got over that disappointment and whilst it is still in the back of our minds, it spurs us on for better things this week."

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