The Kagifa Samoa squad has arrived in Perth determined to turn an honourable loss in their opening Global Rapid Rugby encounter against Fijian Latui a fortnight ago into a breakthrough win against the unbeaten Western Force.
While it’s no small task, especially on the West Aussie’s home deck, anyone who saw the pacific islanders in action against Fiji couldn’t fault their energy and endeavour, and now with a couple of weeks of additional training under their belt, they’re eyeing an upset.
They come to WA with a run-on side that is basically unchanged, while the bench has a number of new faces all keen to prove themselves against the benchmark side in Rapid Rugby’s 2019 Showcase.
One player eager to get a good run will be fullback Kali Hala who spent the majority of the opening game watching on from the sidelines after copping a head knock. His experience and class will be a big boost for the visitors.
The Western Force meanwhile have made a number of tactical moves following a taxing match against Fijian Latui last weekend. Coming off a six-day break the side has been shuffled to bring fresh legs to the starting XV.
Hardworking prop Kieran Longbottom and star number 8 Brynard Stander are just two of the players who’ll benefit from the rotation employed by Coach Tim Sampson. Both will still be called upon to play a part in the game but their impact will come from the bench. Props Harrison Lloyd and Tom Sheminant will start, as will 2018 Rising Star Award recipient Tevin Ferris who replaces Stander.
In a big blow to the Force, star West Australian winger Brad Lacy will miss Friday night’s clash with a knee injury. The 25-year old is waiting on scans but it is feared he may have damaged his ACL meaning an extended stint on the sidelines.
While Lacey’s injury robs the Force of a powerful try scoring option out wide, it does provide an opportunity for up and comer Clay Uyen who slots straight into the left wing position. Speedster Rod Davies is the only chage to the match day 23, returning to the squad after staying in Perth last weekend for the birth of his third child.
Another spectacular pre-match show is planned, including Indigenous performers from Australia and Samoa as part of the Western Force Indigenous Appreciation Match activities.
Friday, 31 May 2019 | HBF Park, Perth
Gates open: 6.10pm | Kick-off: 7.45pm
Starting XV: 1.Harrison LLOYD, 2.Heath TESSMANN, 3.Tom SHEMINANT, 4.Johan BARDOUL, 5.Fergus LEE WARNER, 6.Henry STOWERS, 7.Chris ALCOCK, 8.Tevin FERRIS, 9.Issak FINES, 10.AJ ALATIMU, 11.Clay UYEN, 12.Henry TAEFU, 13.Marcel BRACHE (C), 14.Masivesi DAKUWAQA, 15.Jack MCGREGOR
Replacements: 16.Feleti KAITU’U, 17.Markus VANZATI, 18.Kieran LONGBOTTOM, 19.Leon POWER, 20.Brynard STANDER, 21.Rory O’SULLIVAN, 22.Andrew DEEGAN, 23.Rod DAVIES
1.Misioka TIMOTEO, 2.Frank MALU, 3.Ausetalia VAIOMANU, 4.Michael MCKEE, 5.Callum ADAMS, 6.Dylan LAM, 7.Caleb FAALILI, 8.Otenili MOALA, 9.Leon FUKOFUKA (C), 10.Latiume FOSITA, 11.David FELIUAI, 12. Pakisonasi AFU, 13.Tino MAFOE, 14.Ah Mu TUIMALEALIIFANO, 15.Kalione HALA
Replacements: 16.Gafatasi SU’A, 17.Mark ROYAL, 18.Samuel AIONO, 19.Sione TUIPULOTU, 20.Laga FASAVALU, 21.JP SAUNI, 22.Maui HAUSIA, 23.Tim SIPPEL
Referee: Graham Cooper, AR1: Mark Sheriff, AR2: Tyler Miller, TMO: Alex Ninkov