Reds Looking For Their First Win Against Force In Four Games

The Reds host the Western Force today at 11:05 SA time at the Suncorp Stadium with the Reds the in-form side after two rounds of the Super Rugby AU competition. The Reds are unbeaten after a draw against the Rebels (18-18) and a win against the Waratahs (32-26). The Western Force lost against the Waratahs (14-23) last weekend. The Force have won seven of their last 10 Super Rugby games against the Reds, including the last three.

The Queensland Reds have made three changes to their starting side for Friday's clash. Lock Angus Blyth has been ruled out with a minor shoulder injury seeing Angus Scott-Young slot into the second row in his first Vodafone Super Rugby AU start.

Following a man-of-the-match performance against the Rebels, Chris Feauai-Sautia also comes into the starting side this week on the wing, as Jock Campbell shifts to fullback.

There are a further four changes to the bench with frontrower Jack Straker and Brothers lock Ryan Smith set to potentially make their Super Rugby and Queensland debuts. While prop Dane Zander and outside back Bryce Hegarty have both been named as finishers for Friday.

Reds head coach Brad Thorn said: “It’s good to be back home this week.

“We’ve dug deep and come away with points in our last couple of games. We’re building our game and looking for improvement on Friday night.

“It’s great to have the Force back in the competition. They were competitive against the Waratahs in their first hit-out. They’ve got plenty of experience with a few Queenslanders there too. We’re expecting them to be a tough opponent.

“Jack Straker and Ryan Smith have been named in the 23 and could make their debuts. They’ve worked hard in our program and deserve their selection,” said Thorn.

Queensland Reds: 1. Harry Hoopert, 2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 3. Taniela Tupou, 4. Angus Scott-Young, 5. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 6. Liam Wright (C), 7. Fraser McReight, 8. Harry Wilson, 9. Tate McDermott, 10. James O’Connor, 11. Filipo Daugunu, 12. Hamish Stewart, 13. Hunter Paisami, 14. Chris Feauai-Sautia, 15. Jock Campbell. Replacements: 16. Alex Mafi, 17. Dane Zander, 18. Jack Straker, 19. Ryan Smith, 20. Tuaina Taii Tualima, 21. Scott Malolua, 22. Josh Flook, 23. Bryce Hegarty.

Western Force coach Tim Sampson has named an unchanged starting XV and made one change amongst the reserves. Sampson has kept faith with the players who did duty last week against the Waratahs and will be looking for a strong performance from his team against the Reds.

Lock, Ollie Atkins, who returned to Perth in June, has been included on the bench in place of Johan Bardoul. Australian-born Atkins joined the Force from English club Exeter where he spent the past four seasons and was part of the squad that reached four successive Premiership finals.

Both Sampson and captain Ian Prior are “excited” to return to Queensland for the hotly anticipated match-up.

“Suncorp is a fantastic stadium to play at,” Prior said. “It’ll be special to play in front of family and friends again; I can’t wait to get out there.”

“We have fond memories of Brisbane and Queensland rugby, so to go there and get a win over the Reds would certainly be a nice feeling, it adds a little bit of extra motivation,” Sampson noted.

The skipper is expecting a fierce encounter on Friday. “They’re coached by Brad Thorn who prides himself on physicality and energy. They’ve got a good group of young players that have been developing nicely, so it’ll be a challenge, but one we’re certainly looking forward to,” Prior added.

Western Force: 1. Angus Wagner, 2. Feleti Kaitu’u, 3. Kieran Longbottom, 4. Jeremy Thrush, 5. Fergus Lee-Warner, 6. Henry Stowers, 7. Tevin Ferris, 8. Brynard Stander, 9. Ian Prior, 10. Jono Lance, 11. Brad Lacey, 12. Nick Jooste, 13. Marcel Brache, 14. Byron Ralston, 15. Jack McGregor. Replacements: 16. Andrew Ready, 17. Chris Heiberg, 18. Greg Holmes, 19. Ollie Atkins, 20. Ollie Callan, 21. Jacob Abel, 22. Henry Taefu, 23. Kyle Godwin.

Opta Facts 

The Force have won seven of their last 10 Super Rugby games against the Reds, including their last three on the bounce; their last meeting (Force 40-26 Reds in Rd 14, 2017) featured 66 total points – the most in the history of this fixture. 

The Reds have won four of their six previous fixtures the game after having been held to a draw in Super Rugby; although, the last time they had to back up from a draw resulted in defeat (Round 5, 2016 – 15-13 v NSW Waratahs). 

The last time the Force opened a Super Rugby campaign with back-to-back defeats was in 2014 when they lost to the NSW Waratahs (Rd 2) and Brumbies (Rd 3). 

The Force finished their last Super Rugby encounter with the Reds with a 100% success rate at both the lineout and the scrum, one of just seven times they have managed to do so in the last decade of Super Rugby. 

Liam Wright (Reds) has attended 49 effective rucks so far in Super Rugby AU, more than any other player in the competition; he’s been the first or second hitter in 51 of the 64 rucks he’s attended so far this tournament.