Chiefs v Western Force, preview

April 12, 2007 - 1:42pm
Story by: Sportal

Venue & time

Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, Saturday April 14, 12.35 AEST, 14.35 NZT

Head to head

Played 1: Chiefs 1, Western Force 0

Last time

February 24, 2006. Subiaco Oval, (Perth). Chiefs 26-9

Walking wounded and team changes

Western Force coach John Mitchell has reacted to last week's 53-0 defeat at the hands of the Crusaders by moving Matt Giteau back into flyhalf for Saturday's game. Junior Pelesasa is back at inside centre while James Hilgendorf is benched. Flanker David Pocock (hamstring) and hooker Brendan Cannon (neck) are out injured. Matt Hodgson replaces the injured Pocock at openside, AJ Whalley rotates with Troy Takiari at prop, while reserve hooker Luke Holmes comes into the squad for first time this season. Vice-captain Scott Staniforth and versatile forward David Pusey are also back in the 22 after long-term injuries.

The Chiefs are boosted by the return of inspirational skipper Jono Gibbes at lock. Coach Ian Foster has also opted for a different loose forward combination with Steven Bates and Marty Holah rested. Tanerau Latimer is at openside flanker, Liam Messam at blindside while Sione Lauaki remains at No.8. In the backline, Tasesa Lavea has recovered from a knee strain and joins Dwayne Sweeney in a new centre combination.


The Force had been looking like one of the form teams of the competition with three straight wins before being demolished 53-0 by the Crusaders last week in Christchurch. They are better than last week's scoreline but need to able to regroup quickly to keep up with the top four.

The Chiefs kept their slim finals hopes alive with a high-scoring win against the Highlanders in Queenstown last week. They were competitive in the loss to the Blues and had a messy win over the Reds in Brisbane the week before. There is no doubt they can rack up the points but they can also be leaky in defence.

Who's hot

It is hard to single out anyone from a team beaten by half-century of points but Digby Ioane stood out in attack for the Force while Pocock, who is injured for this match, had an impressive game at the breakdown against Richie McCaw. Drew Mitchell has been looking sharp recently while Matt Giteau will hopefully re-ignite back at No.10.

Sitiveni Sivivatu was moved to fullback for last week's match and ended up with two tries. Winger Roy Kinikinilau is also looking dangerous in the open while No.8 Sione Lauaki has been larger than life in the forwards.


Western Force

1. Gareth Hardy
2. Tai McIsaac
3. AJ Whalley
4. Rudi Vedelago
5. Nathan Sharpe (c)
6. Richard Brown
7. Matt Hodgson
8. Scott Fava

9. Chris O’Young
10. Matt Giteau
11. Cameron Shepherd
12. Junior Pelesasa
13. Ryan Cross
14. Digby Ioane
15. Drew Mitchell.

16. Luke Holmes
17. Troy Takiari
18. David Pusey
19. Luke Doherty
20. Jon McGrath
21. James Hilgendorf
22. Scott Staniforth


1. Aled de Malmanche,
2. Tom Willis,
3. Nathan White,
4. Jono Gibbes (c),
5. Keith Robinson,
6. Liam Messam,
7. Tanerau Latimer,
8. Sione Lauaki,

9. Byron Kelleher,
10. Stephen Donald,
11. Roy Kinikinilau,
12. Tasesa Lavea,
13. Dwayne Sweeney,
14. Lelia Masaga,
15. Sitiveni Sivivatu.

16. Simms Davison,
17. Ben Castle,
18. Kristian Ormsby,
19. Steven Bates,
20. Brendon Leonard
21. Tane Tu'ipulotu.
22. Jared Payne.