Coming off an excellent 35-14 win last weekend against the Cheetahs in their first match of the season, the Melbourne Rebels will front up against their first fellow Australian opponent for the year, the Western Force.
So far this season the Force have suffered two losses: the first being a 22 point loss to the Waratahs in which they conceded six tries in the match -- three alone to Israel Folau, one of which was in the opening minute of the game. The second came last weekend against the Brumbies at their own home ground where they lost by 13 points and conceded three tries in the first 20 minutes.
It's fair to say that defence hasn't been the Force's strongest aspect so far, having conceded the most points out of all teams that have played two games thus far -- 70 points, including 9 tries -- and sit on the bottom of the table because of it.
It's not all bad for the Force, though. Last week they made drastic improvements from their game against the Waratahs and actually accumulated almost 50 more metres than the Brumbies throughout the match, had almost 20 more carries, beat 15 more defenders, and had 64% of possesion in the second half. These stats show that the Force are definitely capable of using the ball, but its how they're using it that is letting them down.
Fumbles, turnovers and lapses of concerntraion have hurt the Force this season, so they're going to need to be on their toes against the Rebels who took their chances last week by scoring 5 tries. Key players like Cummins, Morahan, Hayward, Hodgson and McCalman will need to step up, while the front row and the rest of the front pack will need to be wary of the Rebels forwards, who performed very well in the scrum last week despite conceding 36kg in weight to the Cheetahs.
From the perspective of the Force, they do not want to be seen as the lowest ranked team in Australia, especially considering they've been around longer than the "upstarts" at the Rebels, so a win is going to be crucial, and they're going to be hungry. Can the Rebels keep the Force's losing streak going by claiming a win at NIB Stadium?