Force look to topple "the best" in the Crusaders


James Mortimer     09 Jul 2012     Photosport

The Force lost to the Blues 32-9 over the weekend, meaning they haven’t defeated a New Zealand Conference team since upsetting the Highlanders 21-14 in Dunedin in June of last year.

While ambitious stating they want to down the most successful team in Super Rugby history, it isn’t so bold a statement when considering their record against the Crusaders.

In six encounters the Crusaders have won three, while the Force have won one, and there has been two draws – including a 23-23 stalemate in Christchurch in 2010.

The Force will also be looking at doing the Reds a favour, for if they do manage to record victory in Crusaders territory for the first time, it will give the defending champions more chances of reaching the Super Rugby Finals Series.

Despite a horror season, which began with Willie Ripia departing the club before the season commenced, while coach Richard Graham left for the Reds mid-year, interim coach Phil Blake said they could sign off their campaign in the best possible fashion.

"We're playing the best province in the southern hemisphere on their home ground," Blake said.

"If we can grab a win and disrupt their season, it will certainly be a nice way to go into our off-season."

Former kiwi based Force midfielder Winston Stanley will return to Perth after dislocating his shoulder against the Blues, while veteran Nathan Sharpe is still uncertain.

The lock had his back ‘lock up’ before the match against the Blues, and was ruled out of action, and at this stage the Force have said it wouldn’t be until later in the week that they would know whether or not they had the services of their inaugural captain.