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'I think everyone in that review meeting on Monday was embarrassed'

(Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

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Western Force coach Tim Sampson hasn’t given up on the finals just yet despite a disastrous fortnight which has left the Super Rugby Pacific club battling to restore pride in the jersey.

A six-match losing run has seen the Force (2-9) plummet to 10th spot on the ladder, meaning they need to win their final three games to have a chance of overtaking the Rebels and Highlanders.

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Aotearoa Rugby Pod | Episode 14
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The past two weeks have been particularly unforgiving for the Force, who followed up a 53-15 loss to the Crusaders with a 61-10 defeat to the Highlanders.

Sampson labelled those performances as unacceptable, and he’s demanded a response from his players in Saturday’s must-win clash with the fourth-placed Chiefs in Waikato.

The Force round out their season with matches against Moana Pasifika and the Hurricanes, and Sampson is still daring to dream of landing a top-eight berth.

“Our focus is to be better this week and be at a gold standard in everything we do,” Sampson said.


“That will hopefully set us up for the win. If we win this game, and our remaining two, depending on other results it would put us in a good position to make the eight.”

Sampson delivered a series of home truths to his players while reviewing the loss to the Highlanders.

“I think everyone in that review meeting on Monday was embarrassed with what we dished out last Friday night,” Sampson said.

“I said to the players, what shows character and what shows our team’s character is how we rebound. It’s important that we do this week.


“I mentioned in the change room straight after the game, we have to roll our sleeves up and show a lot of pride in our performances and in our jerseys.”

The Rebels rebounded from their 71-28 loss to the Blues with a brave effort against the Chiefs last week, eventually falling 33-30 after conceding an after-the-siren try.

Sampson said the Force can take lessons from how the Rebels came out firing following a heavy defeat.

“Fair play to the Rebels, similar situation to us where they got towelled up the week before, and then their response was outstanding,” Sampson said.

The Chiefs will be aiming to secure a bonus-point win in order to boost their chances of locking up a top-four berth and a home quarterfinal.

But their week has been disrupted by a second wave of COVID-19, ruling out a number of players for this week’s match.

Josh Ioane, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Ollie Norris, Atu Moli, Jonah Lowe and Gideon Wrampling are among the players who are unavailable for selection.


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