APD keep faith for clash with Force

The Asia Pacific Dragons have made just one change to their starting XV for Sunday’s historic clash that will pit the Singapore based side against Australia’s Western Force for the first time in Asia. 

The Dragons turned in an impressive performance to record a 15 point win over the South China Tigers last Sunday and Coach Ryan Martin has maintained the faith in his squad to deliver again against the unbeaten Force.

Martin has made just two changes to his 23 man squad. Scrumhalf Leon Fukofuka has replaced Rowan Gouws in the run on side, while West Australian based utility back, Sheldon Tarawa, is in line to make his Global Rapid Rugby debut after being named on the bench. Tarawa had been playing with the Joondalup Brothers team in the Fortescue Premier Grade competition and only joined the Asia Pacific Dragons squad this week.

The Western Force meanwhile return to Rapid Rugby action after last lining up on April 12 when they defeated the Dragons 42-10 in Perth. The Force arrive in Singapore following two exhibition matches in Japan and will be wary of a Dragons side who have found their feet with each outing and will no doubt present a very different proposition to what they faced three weeks ago. 

PERTH, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 12: Stacy Illi of the Dragons runs the ball during the Rapid Rugby match between the Western Force and the Asia Pacific Dragons at HBF Stadium on April 12, 2019 in Perth. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Inspirational skipper, Ian Prior, returns to the Western Force starting line-up having had limited minutes in Japan. Prior missed the club’s first game and played off the bench in the second match after staying in Perth for the birth of his first child. He’ll again team up with AJ Alatimu in the halves, while Coach Tim Sampson has opted for full-on speed in his outside backs with Brad Lacy, ‘Rocket’ Rod Davies and Jack McGregor filling the wings and fullback respectively.

The last time the sides met the Force had six individual try scorers and will need to share the load again with the forecast of a humid 33 degrees on Sunday. The Dragons have shown an ability to run out games strongly and won’t leave anything on the paddock with this being their last Rapid Rugby match of the Asia Showcase Series.

Where: Queenstown Stadium 
Date: Sunday, 5 May 2019 
Kick-off: 15:10 local

Asia Pacific Dragons

Starting XV: 1.Haamea AHIO, 2.Sekonaia POLE, 3.Ropate RINAKAMA, 4.Louis Johannes CONRADIE, 5.Joketani KOROI, 6.Michael MCKEE, 7.Fotu LOKOTUI, 8.Nili LATU, 22.Leon FUKOFUKA, 21.Latiume FOSITA, 10.Mitchell SCOTT, 12.Stacey ILI(c), 13.Asaeli TIKOIROTUMA, 14.Junior LALOIFI, 15.Kali HALA

Reserves: 16.Sefo SAKALIA, 17.Taniela KOROI, 18.Latu TALAKAI, 19.Naulia DAWAI, 20.Irwin FINAU, 9.Kurt HAMMER, 11.Sireli BOBO, 23.Sheldon TARAWA

Western Force

Starting XV: 1.Chris HEIBERG, 2.Heath TESSMANN, 3.Kieran LONGBOTTOM, 4.Fergus LEE WARNER, 5.Johan BARDOUL, 6.Henry STOWERS, 7.Tevin FERRIS, 8.Brynard STANDER, 9.Ian PRIOR(c), 22.Aj ALATIMU, 11.Brad LACEY, 13.Henry TAEFU, 12.Marcel BRACHE, 14.Rodney DAVIES, 15.Jack MCGREGOR

Reserves: 27.Andrew READY, 17.Markus VANZATI, 18.Tom SHEMINANT, 19.Leon POWER, 20.Chris ALCOCK, 21.Issak FINES, 23.Clay UYEN, 24.Masivesi DAKUWAQA

Match Officials

Referee: Matthew RODDEN AR1: Stephen COPEMAN  AR2: Leow WEI LIANG

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