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Date confirmed for rescheduled clash between Moana Pasifika and Western Force

By Alex McLeod
Image by Marty Melville / www.photosport.nz

Moana Pasifika and the Western Force will close their Super Rugby Pacific regular seasons by playing three matches in just a week-and-a-half.

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That’s because SANZAAR have rescheduled the postponed Super Round clash between the two sides, which will now be played as a mid-week fixture in the final round of the season.

Neither team played in the inaugural Super Round in Melbourne three weeks ago after a Covid outbreak in the Force squad resulted in the postponement of their match against Moana Pasifika.

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Aotearoa Rugby Pod | Episode 12
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It was the fifth time this season that a Moana Pasifika match had been postponed due to Covid, leading chief executive Pelenato Sakalia to suggest that the new expansion franchise may call on the Force to forfeit the game.

However, SANZAAR confirmed the rescheduled date for the fixture on Tuesday, announcing that the two sides will do battle at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland on May 24, which falls on a Tuesday.

As such, the Force and Moana Pasifika will each be required to play three games in eight and nine days, respectively to close out their campaigns.

Moana Pasifika face the Reds in Brisbane on May 20, meaning they will have a four-day turnaround leading into their match against the Force, before then hosting the Brumbies in Auckland just four days later on May 28.

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The Force, meanwhile, face the Chiefs at Waikato Stadium on May 21, three days ahead of their bout with Moana Pasifika.

The Perth-based side will then return to Western Australia to host the Hurricanes at HBF Park four days later on May 28.

Moana Pasifika have been awarded hosting rights for the rescheduled clash as the Super Round fixtures counted as home matches for the New Zealand-based teams.

That may count against them, though, given they will encounter a far longer cross-border trip from Brisbane to Auckland to play the match compared to the Force, who only need to make the 90-minute bus trip north from Hamilton.

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The short turnarounds so late in the season may also have ramifications for the Force’s quarter-final hopes given they are one of three teams – alongside the Highlanders and Melbourne Rebels – vying for the eighth and final playoff spot.

In a statement released on Tuesday, SANZAAR chief executive Brendon Morris acknowledged the difficulties that come with rescheduling matches, and made special mention of the hardship endured by Moana Pasifika in their debut season.

“Rescheduling matches due to COVID has been disruptive for several teams this season and everyone recognises the challenges that has created for players, coaches, management and fans,” Morris said.

“On behalf of the Super Rugby Pacific competitions’ committee, I would like to acknowledge the affected teams for their understanding and in particular Moana Pasifika, who have been more affected than any other club with four rescheduled matches during their inaugural season in the competition.”

SANZAAR also confirmed the final round clash between the Fijian Drua and Chiefs, originally scheduled to be played at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast on May 27, will now take place at Churchill Park in Lautoka on May 28.

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