Force try to regroup before Reds clash - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Force try to regroup before Reds clash

By Chris Pike 28/02/2010 04:23:01 PM Comments (0)

Western Force coach John Mitchell admits the early bye has come at a handy time as his struggling Super 14 side try to regroup before their March 14 clash with the Queensland Reds in Brisbane.

The Perth-based franchise is nailed to the bottom of the ladder after dropping its third straight game, 37-19 to the unbeaten Chiefs at ME Bank Stadium.

The bye break will give the injury-hit Force time to get newly-arrived playmaker replacement David Hill up to speed with their calls and style.

The former Chiefs and All Blacks five eighth was signed following the season-ending injury to Springbok Andre Pretorious.

"I don't like the bye being so early and I would have liked it halfway through, but it is timely with David Hill arriving," Mitchell said.

"We have five sessions now before we go into the Reds performance."

The steady Hill is likely to take over at No.10, allowing young Wallabies star James O'Connor to return to fullback after he filled the role against the Chiefs.

"James did some good things, but he has got a lot of learning in terms of how the 10 has to drive the team out of the back 50 (metres). Long kicking is probably better than short kicking," Mitchell said.

The Force's season has been badly hit by the long-term injuries to Pretorius and fellow leading players Richard Brown, David Pocock and Cameron Shepherd out with long-term injuries.

Even though Mark Bartholomeusz, Ryan Cross, Scott Staniforth and Nick Cummins were back on deck in the backline against the Chiefs, the Force still struggled to gel.

That doesn't surprise Mitchell given how many changes they've been forced into in the losses to the Brumbies, Hurricanes and Chiefs.

"Our biggest challenge is to continue to work hard and settle on a same playing group. We've had three different backlines over the first three games, two different forward packs and our challenge is to stay with the same mix," Mitchell said.

"We just looked like a disjointed team. That was always going to be a factor in bringing a number of boys back.

"Sometimes you get away with it and sometimes you don't. We've been given a good lesson, but we'll learn from it quickly."

The Chiefs have made a superb start with two wins in South Africa over the Sharks and Lions, and now victory over the Force upon heading back to Hamilton to host the Reds and Crusaders in the next fortnight.

Coach Ian Foster is delighted with his team, but not so about playing the Reds in a Friday game.

"We've taken a little bit of flak during the week for giving up 65 points last week, but they were extraordinary circumstances," he said.

"Our defence kept us in the game here and then we fed off a few mistakes and built momentum back. This was a hard earned win.

"We're a little disappointed that after a big trip we go home and have a short turnaround for a Friday night game, but it will be good to be back at home."

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