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Western Force still have finals berth in sights after three agonisingly close losses

By AAP
Ian Prior. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Western Force coach Tim Sampson has urged his players to keep pushing for a finals berth, and he hopes last week’s mental freshener will help them achieve the goal.

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The last-placed Force are winless after four games, but Sampson has set them the challenge to win their remaining four matches.

That begins on Friday night when the Force take on the NSW Waratahs at Cbus Super Stadium.

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Force captain Ian Prior and coach Tim Sampson on the Waratahs
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Force captain Ian Prior and coach Tim Sampson on the Waratahs

“A couple of results last weekend spread the table out in terms of who is ahead of us,” Sampson said.

“But if we can land those four games, we will certainly be in the mix there for finals.”

The Force have been in winning positions in three of the four losses.

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The recent extra-time defeat to Melbourne Rebels particularly hurt, and Sampson gave his players four days off during last week’s bye.

“We needed it,” Sampson said.

“That last result took a fair bit out of us mentally.

“It was a good opportunity for the guys to get away from rugby. Three narrow losses – that can take it out of you a bit. They’ve turned up in a really good headspace this week.”

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Force captain Ian Prior said players enjoyed the time off, recharging their batteries with surfing, golf, cricket, and volleyball.

“It was good to get away for a few days. The guys spent a fair bit of time in the surf there to recalibrate down at Coffs (Harbour),” he said.

“It’s been a bit mentally taxing doing so much well and then just little moments let the pressure valve off and teams capitalise on it.

“There’s been some really good learnings for us.”

– Justin Chadwick

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