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Western Force ‘pumped’ to be back home after ‘clunky’ start to the season

By AAP
(Photo by Pete Dovgan/Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Western Force playmaker Hamish Stewart hopes the return to home comforts will play a key role in propelling the side back into the finals mix.

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The Force won two of their opening three games of the Super Rugby Pacific season but have since slumped to 11th on the 12-team ladder after losing four straight on the road.

The side’s last match at home was on March 11 and Force players are looking forward to their return to HBF Park ahead of Saturday night’s crunch clash with the seventh-placed Highlanders.

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“The boys are pumped to finally be back home,” Stewart told reporters on Tuesday.

“We’ve sort of made it our fortress to play there. Always having our crowd there gives us an extra player on the field.”

The Force (2-5) are four points adrift of eighth spot ahead of games against the Highlanders and Reds (away).

Four of the Force’s final seven games will be played in Perth.

“The Highlanders are the same bubble as we are. It’s a must-win game now for the rest of the season to get into that finals contention,” Stewart said.

“The next couple of games are crucial for us to win.

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“We’re pretty confident that we can get the win this weekend.”

The Force’s losses on the road this season include wallopings against the  Reds (71-20) and Waratahs (36-16).

Simon Cron’s men showed far more fight against NZ outfits the Hurricanes (45-42), Highlanders (43-35) and Blues (30-17).

“It’s been a bit clunky, up and down,” Stewart said of the Force’s season so far.

“We’ll throw in a good performance and then have a real shocker.

“Our downfall at the moment is we have lapses and they put an easy couple of tries on us, and we’re chasing the game from there.”

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The Force are hopeful captain Michael Wells will be fit to return from an Achilles problem against the Highlanders, but playmaker Jake Strachan is out with concussion.

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