Two of the competition’s bottom-dwellers, both of whom face uncertain futures in Super Rugby, go head-to-head at the nib this Sunday.
The Kings will be looking to get their tour of Australia off to a positive start when they take on the Western Force this Sunday. With both teams apparently in the running to culled from next year's tournament, this game may just give them a chance to make a big statement to SANZAAR.
Western Force v Southern Kings | Sunday 9 April 2017 | nib Stadium | 08h05
To Win (80 Mins)
Force 1/11 | Draw 33/1 | Kings 57/10
Force (-15.5) 9/10 | Kings (+15.5) 9/10
The Force have been as abysmal, as ever, in 2017. Saffa coach David Wessels’ side have recorded just one win in the competition to date (against the ever-disappointing Reds in Week 2) and currently sit one place above the Rebels in second-to-last on the combined Australasian Conference. The men from Perth have looked as uninspired as ever this campaign, and are surely destined to be booted from the tournament as of next year.
Last week’s result against the Blues in Auckland, wasn’t as awful as expected, however. The Force were in the game up until the 60th-minute of the match, before some serious lack of concentration in their defensive alignment allowed the Blues to score a couple late on. They will be proud that star-man Dane Haylett-Petty was on hand to deny the Kiwis a bonus-point right at the death, but by then the Blues had dropped off their intensity and were just going through the motions.
This week offers them the perfect chance to double their win-tally against an equally as inadept Southern Kings outfit, who currently have the same amount of points as them (five) on the log. They’ll feel confident playing at home, but there is no telling whether or not they will “pitch-up” and actually play a full eighty-minutes of football on Sunday.
Coming off of a bye, Deon Davids’ charges will feel well-rested and excited to potentially claim a second competition win in Perth this week. Much like Sunday’s opponents, the Kings are more-than-likely playing their final season of Super Rugby, with SANZAAR set to axe three of the competition’s strugglers by the beginning of next year and, again, there isn’t much in the way of an argument pro their continued inclusion. The Kings are, quite simply, diluting the quality of the tournament.
Travelling 'Down Under', the Kings will know that the Force have only managed to score a dismal eighty-eight points in their five games thus far. This knowledge will surely see them throwing the ball around in a more expansive fashion than we’ve grown accustomed to recently, as they will bank on the Force’s impotence on attack to count against them.
Verdict: Force (-15.5) 9/10
Although this game is sure to lack the quality of some of the others this round, we may be in for an exciting spectacle in all. The Force should win playing in Perth, though. The handicap is slightly on the high side but I think a late show may just see the Force pass it.