Don’t fear failure.
It’s the new motto of the Western Force, and hopes are high it will help the team salvage something out of their train-wreck Super Rugby season.
The Force face a fight to avoid consecutive wooden spoons after slumping on Friday night to their seventh straight loss – a 42-20 defeat to the Bulls in Perth.
Although the five-tries-to-two rout seemed bad on paper, the spirit the Force displayed for 50 minutes was commendable.
The Force showed plenty of attacking flair in the first half, and even threatened to take the lead early in the second stanza before a yellow card to Brynard Stander in the 53rd minute changed the match.
The Bulls ran in three tries from that point to secure the bonus-point victory, with the result leaving the Force with just one win from nine games.
The Force’s clash with the Sunwolves next Saturday in Japan looms as a crucial contest in the battle to avoid the spoon.
Coach Michael Foley criticised his team’s knack of dropping their heads following last week’s 49-13 home loss to the NSW Waratahs.
But he was pleased with the effort shown against the Bulls, and said skipper Matt Hodgson’s heart-to-heart with the player group on Monday had worked well.
“It’s tough to build the confidence. But our motto now is, ‘Don’t fear failure’,” Hodgson said.
“I thought that Waratahs game, we let our opponents dictate it and control the game. We were playing within ourselves.
“Now, it’s about expressing ourselves.
“We’re still sticking to the system and the style of play we’ve worked on.
“But, if you see something – back yourself and back your decision. Your first instinct is normally always the right one.
“You can see the boys giving it their all, and that’s all I can ask from the boys from here on in. We’re staying tight within the group. The results will come.”
Foley took heart from his team’s ability to defend grimly against the Bulls in the dying minutes, before manufacturing a length-of-the-field try after the fulltime siren.
“A performance like last week creates doubt. A performance like tonight – you can say there’s rugby things to work on, but there’s plenty of character in the team,” Foley said.
“I think this group of players corrected themselves from last week. We’re looking for exactly the same thing next week.”
Flyhalf Peter Grant (eye) is set to return against the Sunwolves, but Luke Burton (foot) needs another week on the sidelines.
The Bulls have snared six wins and a draw from eight matches this season, and they’ll be aiming to boost their title credentials with a win over the Brumbies on Friday in Canberra.