Home team Away Team

Western Force

  • Cottrell, Morahan, Hodgson, Mathewson,
    Penalty goals: Ebersohn (2),
    Conversions: Ebersohn (3),
32 - 7

Melbourne Rebels

  • Veainu,
    Conversions: Hegarty,
  • Super Rugby
  • Overall Group
  • 8th Mar 2014
  • KO 08:40
  • Ground: Subiaco Oval, Perth

Super Rugby: Western Force v Melbourne Rebels preview

Last updated: 7th March 2014  

Matt Hodgson Western Force v Brumbies SR 2014

Matt Hodgson: Western Force skipper makes his 100th appearance for the franchise

Scott Higginbotham Rebels training 2014

Scott Higginbotham: Rebels captain starred in opening win over Cheetahs

Related links




Also see

Australia's two strugglers in years gone by, Melbourne Rebels have made a brighter start to 2014 than their Western Force hosts on Saturday.

An off-season healing process in Melbourne has resulted in more of a squad than star focus and appears to have been the right course of action. The Rebels look tighter, more assured.

A huge part of that new resolve is the return of Scott Higginbotham to full fitness. Cherished as much by the Wallabies as he is in Melbourne, Higginbotham has taken the armband from the departed Gareth Delve and responded in kind by landing a cross-field kick in the bread basket of Jason Woodward last Friday.

It was a little touch of class from the Australia international that spoke volumes, leading to one of five tries for Tony McGahan's growing squad.

There are potential Wallabies in the group such as Woodward and Hugh Pyle, while the combination last week of Luke Burgess and Bryce Hegarty looked potent, only for Hegarty to miss out this week in favour of Angus Roberts.


The return of Burgess just adds that extra touch of class required at scrum-half if the Rebels are to pick up more wins on the road. If they're serious about challenging the big three in Australia in 2014, then a five-pointer away in Perth this weekend is essential.

Given the Force were 24-0 down at half-time against the Brumbies and conceded over 40 points against the Waratahs, it's no wonder they're underdogs - even at home.

The belated spark shown at the tail end of last week's loss - when Ben McCalman and Jayden Hayward both scored tries - does offer a bit of hope, but defensively the Force have just been too soft early on this season.

Hayward is promoted from the bench to full-back this week, shifting Luke Morahan out onto the wing, with Sias Ebersohn getting the start at fly-half.

Ebersohn's international half-back pairing with Alby Mathewson is pivotal to any success, as the Force's underachieving pack look for parity upfront.

Matt Hodgson will make his 100th appearance for the Force and his service deserves better than another defeat, but the hopes are not high for the hosts even with talented players like McCalman, Kyle Godwin and Wallaby international Nick Cummins to choose from.

Western Force: 15 Hayward, 14 Morahan, 13 Rasolea, 12 Godwin, 11 Cummins, 10 Ebersohn, 9 Mathewson; 1 Cowan, 2 Charles, 3 Longbottom, 4 Wykes, Steenkamp, 6 Cottrell, 7 Hodgson (capt), 8 McCalman

Replacements: 16 Tessmann, 17 Faulkner, 18 Hoskins, 19 Coleman, 20 Stander, 21 Prior, 22 Holmes, 23 Brache

Rebels: 15 Woodward, 14 Kingston, 13 Ellison, 12 Inman, 11 English, 10 Roberts, 9 Burgess; 1 Lahiff, 2 Leafa, 3 Alo-Emile, 4 Pyle, 5 Neville, 6 McMahon, 7 Fainga'a, Higginbotham (capt)

Replacements: 16 Horie, 17 Smith, 18 Weeks, 19 Jones, 20 Timani, 21 Meehan, 22 Hegarty, 23 Mitchell

Click here for more betting
Forthcoming Super Rugby Fixtures
Super Rugby
Friday 27th March
Super Rugby
06:35Hurricanes vs Melbourne Rebels
09:00Reds vs Lions
Saturday 28th March
05:30Chiefs vs Cheetahs
06:35Highlanders vs Stormers
08:40Waratahs vs Blues
15:05Sharks vs Western Force
17:10Bulls vs Crusaders
Friday 3rd April
07:35Hurricanes vs Stormers
09:40Melbourne Rebels vs Reds
Saturday 4th April
07:35Chiefs vs Blues
09:40Brumbies vs Cheetahs
14:00Sharks vs Crusaders
16:05Lions vs Bulls
Friday 10th April
08:35Blues vs Brumbies
Saturday 11th April
08:35Crusaders vs Highlanders
10:40Waratahs vs Stormers
12:45Western Force vs Cheetahs
14:00Bulls vs Reds
16:05Lions vs Sharks
Friday 17th April
08:35Crusaders vs Chiefs
Saturday 18th April
05:30Hurricanes vs Waratahs
08:35Highlanders vs Blues
10:40Brumbies vs Melbourne Rebels
12:45Western Force vs Stormers
16:05Sharks vs Bulls

Experts & Blogs

Phil Edwards

Phil Edwards

Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com