Force aim to end home campaign with win - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Force aim to end home campaign with win

By Adrian Warren 18/04/2010 03:01:36 PM Comments (0)

Struggling Western Force are looking forward to the challenge of toppling the Super 14 ladder-leading Crusaders and assisting the finals aspirations of their Australian rivals.

Next Friday's fixture will be the final home game of a disappointing, injury-riddled campaign for the Force, who will be looking for just their third win of the year and their first ever victory over the Crusaders.

Saturday's 38-17 loss to the Blues in Auckland ended a mini-revival by John Mitchell's side which had delivered successive wins over the Stormers and Highlanders.

And although the Force have never tasted victory over the seven-time champions, they have drawn twice with the New Zealanders and were only edged out 29-24 in 2008.

The Crusaders have a tough run home, which could yet see them overhauled by at least one of the three Australian teams vying for semi-final spots.

After taking on the Force, the Crusaders face daunting away games against the Stormers and Bulls, who are running third and second respectively, before finishing off at home to the Brumbies.

Fourth-placed Queensland Reds, NSW Waratahs, who sit in fifth and the Brumbies in sixth, would all benefit if the Force could upset the Crusaders.

"We'll regroup and get excited, it's our last home game and we'll look forward to it," said Mitchell.

After finishing eighth the last two seasons and seventh the year before, the Force now seem certain to record their lowest ladder position since they came last in their inaugural season in 2006.

The Perth-based side enjoyed over 60 per cent of territory against the Blues, but didn't score their two tries until the last three minutes.

Compounding their lack of penetration in attack was some sloppy defence and a series of scrum penalties.

"If we want to be serious contenders at this level we've got to deal with situations like tonight and draw strength from situations when you don't convert early," Mitchell said.

Force captain and lock Nathan Sharpe said there was plenty of spirit in the team and it was capable of playing a lot better.

"We'll rally, we'll play the Crusaders next week at home and we're looking forward to that," Sharpe said.

Five-eighth David Hill was also adamant the Force have plenty of scope for improvement, particularly once their heavy injury toll declines.

"Once we get a settled team and a settled squad and guys are injury free, then the potential is definitely there," Hill said.

"I think we can see that, it's just a matter of a bit of patience and a bit of time."

Prop Matt Dunning (ankle) and centre Ryan Cross (diaphragm) were the only casualties to come out of Saturday's match.

Following the Crusaders game the Force finish their campaign in South Africa, where they will play the three lowest ranked teams from that country.

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