Force chase ‘double points’ in unlikely finals bid

Jacob Shteyman |

Nic White (right) returns for the Western Force as they host the Fijian Drua on Saturday.
Nic White (right) returns for the Western Force as they host the Fijian Drua on Saturday.

Bottom feeders Western Force are still brimming with belief they can snag a Super Rugby Pacific finals spot ahead of a crucial showdown with eighth-placed Fijian Drua.

Despite an abysmal 2-8 record this season, the Force are only seven points behind the Drua and a coveted finals’ berth, making Saturday’s home clash a golden opportunity for Simon Cron’s men.

“Every game is a final,” Cron said on Friday.

“There’s belief. The Reds game, the Brumbies game, the Crusaders game are all good examples of what we can do – we’ve just got to put it together for 85 (minutes).”

Western Force coach Simon Cron.
Every game is crucial as the Force chase an unlikely finals place, coach Simon Cron says. (Richard Wainwright/AAP PHOTOS)

The Perth-based outfit’s two victories this season – against the Crusaders in round nine and the Queensland Reds in round five – seem a distant memory after the 56-7 drubbing handed to them last Saturday by the Chiefs in Waikato.

But the Force have been boosted by the return of Wallabies pair Nic White and Izack Rodda to the starting line-up.

“Izack gets an opportunity to put his chest out and lead us forward,” Cron said.

“I challenged him on that this week and he’s keen for it.”

Prop Harry Hoopert will play his first Super game since 2022 after recovering from multiple knee injuries to earn a place on the bench.

Halfback White said the hard and fast Perth surface would set up an exciting game after the Force were thumped 31-13 in a waterlogged reverse fixture in Lautoka in March.

“It’s an important one for us, a really big game,” White said of the chance to deny the Drua competition points as well as pick up some of their own.

“Worth double points against Fiji and we need to start getting some momentum.

“With four weeks to go there’s certainly still a chance, and it starts tomorrow night.”

The Drua will be fired up after they were unlucky to leave Canberra without a point last time out, despite a strong showing against the third-placed Brumbies.

“They’ll come hard,” Cron said.

“They’ve got some speedsters at 13, 9 and 14. They’ve got a lot of good ball players.

“They’ll play ‘Fiji ball’ – a lot of offloads. We’ve got a good idea of what’s coming, now it’s about what we do with that.”