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'We'll keep throwing': Force eye finals run after gutsy Drua win

By AAP
Zach Kibirige of the Force celebrates with teammates after scoring a try during the round six Super Rugby Pacific match between Hurricanes and Western Force at Central Energy Trust Arena, on April 02, 2023, in Palmerston North, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Western Force coach Simon Cron says his side have a clear focus on the Super Rugby Pacific finals after they jumped into eighth spot with their 34-14 win over Fijian Drua.

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The Force kept the Fijians scoreless in an impressive second-half performance on Friday to grab a crucial bonus point win and keep their four-from-four unbeaten home record at HBF Park.

It was a must-win game for the Force with three rounds remaining and Cron said: “The boys are punching, don’t worry about that. We’ll keep throwing.”

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Cron was particularly pleased with the second period, describing it as a “good zero-point mentality”.

The Force took a 12-point lead after just eight minutes with tries from winger Manasa Mataele and Wallabies hooker Folau Fainga’a and a conversion from Max Burey.

But they slipped behind with Eroni Sau and Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta scoring converted tries as the Fijians laid assault to the Force line.

Burey gave his side a slender one-point lead with a penalty after the half-time siren.

But they kept the Drua pointless after the break and second rower Jeremy Williams, Fainga’a with a second and homegrown flanker Carlo Tizzano with his first Super try on his first game back at home sealed the victory.

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Force captain and back-rower Michael Wells said the side became “bored” with what they were doing well as the Drua got back into the game.

“We let them (Drua) back in. We presented opportunities,” Wells said. “We missed one-up tackles, gave them penalties so they could march down the field.

“We got away from what we were doing well. In fact, we probably got a little bit bored with it.

“We got back to it second-half and closed it out.

“We needed to take away opportunities and a lot of that was on our forwards. We challenged our forwards this week. It was on us.”

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Cron said the return of Fainga’a from injury brought a calmness to the team.

“He can fix on the run so if something doesn’t quite go right he’ll talk to the people around him and fix that,” Cron said.

Cron praised playmaker Burey, in just his second Super Rugby game, after being clutched from Sydney’s Northern Suburbs club in the Force injury crisis.

“Max spent the whole pre-season with us, he flew back to Sydney for a couple of games, then came back to us,” Cron said.

“He’s a guy who has worked really, really hard in the pre-season. He’s a student of the game, does all his homework, does his all study, sits with us as coaches and works through what he needs to do.

“He sat with Finesy (scrum-half Issak Fines) earlier in the week and talked about what the two of them can be better at together. Credit to him.”

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J
Jon 1 hours ago
Buoyant England travel to New Zealand full of hope but are they walking into an All Blacks ambush?

> New head coach Scott Robertson has kept only forwards coach Jason Ryan and conditioning coach Nic Gill from the previous regime *and so there is little institutional knowledge inherent in the new team.* Shows you what the English know about sport. Isn’t just fantastic that the best rugby team, or brand, on the planet has three brothers playing together? One a bull, the other a dancer, and last a .. boxer? Looks like a boxer bless him. > But Robertson has been working to fix that issue, with senior players and coaches having been regularly meeting to work out how they will operate together both on and off the field to ensure there is strong decision-making and a deep understanding of how the team wants to play. Have they? I would suggest then it is not a case of fixing things, that is not what Razor does. Razor will evolve the relationship between player and coach into a more symbiotic relationship. This wont be a coach that shouts down at his players theyre not doing good enough. I can imagine one of the first key areas he will be implementing is the respective leadership for each coaching group. Tight five, Loosies, Halves, Centers, and Back Three, will each have their own leadership team and an agile approach to the playing group relaying what they believe is happening on the training paddock, and in games. It will be a very big step to get everyone involved, able, and thinking about contributing to that process, but I believe a very beneficial one if successful. > England may have their best chance to win in 21 years, but they may also be walking into an ambush – *about to be hit* by a young, gifted, supremely physical and athletic All Blacks team coached by a man who has made every post a winner so far in his career and has this uncanny knack of getting the best out of people. Or, by a group hurting from not getting over the line and proving to everyone they are the best in the world, full of experience and cohesion, grit and motivation. You only need to look at someone like Patrick Tuipulotu to see someone with a fire under his belly from missing out on the last RWC due to injury, and having lost to this opposition in the previous one. It will be very interesting to see how this ‘Razor’ plays it. Does he stick with the traditional and protect the time honored All Black values of commitment, or does he evolve and pick the best players to win the Rugby Championship - and by association this test series - like Akira Ioane?

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