The Western Force are turning 10, and there’s only one thing they want for their birthday – a shiny new win.
The Force are using Saturday night’s clash with the Cheetahs in Perth to celebrate their 10th year in the Super Rugby competition.
So far, the party has been rather muted, with a six-match losing run cruelling the Force’s finals hopes.
But Force coach Michael Foley hopes the second half of the season will be filled with more memorable moments and a lot more wins.
“All the efforts that have gone before us are the things we want to acknowledge in our performance,” Foley said of the Force’s 10th-year celebrations.
“We’re a young club, and we’re fighting for a position to become one of the leading clubs.
“Getting the result and turning that corner (is what we’re after).
“That’s the thing for us at the moment – to get that little bit more urgent around the breakdown, more physical around defence and to finish those opportunities that we are creating.
“There’s plenty of line breaks and chances there for us. If we finish those off, we’ll get the result and push on.”
The Force managed just one win from 13 games during their inaugural season in 2006.
The sole victory came against the Cheetahs in South Africa, with the Force eking out a 16-14 triumph after drawing against the Crusaders and Lions in the previous two games.
Force skipper Matt Hodgson featured in the famous first win against the Cheetahs.
But the inspirational 33-year-old won’t be on the field this week as he continues to recover from a torn hamstring.
Foley said Hodgson would also miss next week’s home clash with the Stormers before returning on April 24 against the Chiefs in New Zealand.
The Force were unlucky not to come away with a win on their recent tour of South Africa, where they dominated possession against the Bulls and Sharks but couldn’t land the killer blow.
Mistakes and missed opportunities in both games proved costly.
Five-eighth Sias Ebersohn produced arguably the biggest blooper when he sprayed his straight-forward penalty against the Sharks at a crucial point in the second half, while Kyle Godwin dropped the ball in the final minute with the tryline in sight.
Ebersohn’s miss in particular changed the course of the match, with the Sharks scoring a try soon after to set up the 15-9 win.
Foley has stuck with Ebersohn at No.10 this week, and he hopes the 26-year-old will be able to repay the faith.
“Anyone who plays at that level has that moment where there’s a ball to catch or kick and you miss it in a way that no one would expect,” Foley said.
“Sias’ sense of disappointment after the game was huge.
“We just took some time to say ‘it’s just an anomaly’. He wouldn’t normally do that.”