• Preview: Rebels vs Force

    The Force will be hoping to make it six wins in a row when they take on an out-of-form Rebels outfit in Melbourne on Friday.

    If the Force can sustain this kind of form then there's no reason why they can't feature in the play-offs for the first time since their inception.

    Standing in their path this week will be a side they beat 32-7 in Perth last month. However, the Rebels are a different proposition on home soil and the Force will rightly be wary of the task that awaits them in Melbourne, where the Rebels have beaten the Crusaders, Brumbies and Waratahs in the past. Furthermore the Rebels enter knowing they beat the Force 30-23 in 2013's home fixture.

    This Friday, the battle between No 8s Scott Higginbotham and Ben McCalman is one to watch as both are pushing their cases for a starting spot in the Wallabies side.

    McCalman is one part of a nuggety back row that includes Angus Cottrell and Matt Hodgson but what's noticeable about the Force is that no one player has stood head and shoulders above their team-mates in this run of form, which is a positive sign that there is a real collective drive among them.

    Every member of Michael Foley's group is making an impact. The spine of the team is strong as both props put in regular shifts outside Nathan Charles while Sam Wykes (unfortunately now injured) and Wilhelm Steenkamp complement each other well. Sias Ebersohn is in control at No 10, which is helping centre Kyle Godwin continue his steady improvement at only 21 years of age.

    So if the Force can continue to implement their simple yet effective plan played at pace, then chances will continue to come for the likes of wingers Nick Cummins and Patrick Dellit, replacing Luke Morahan this week. The question now is whether the Rebels can conjure up another of those home efforts that has done for many in the past. If they can, then expect another close contest between this duo like the six previous to this year, with Ebersohn and Jason Woodward's boots set to be critical.

    Rebels – 15 Jason Woodward 14 Male Sau, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Colby Fainga'a, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Toby Smith.
    Subs: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau,18 Paul Alo-Emilie,19 Hugh Pyle, 20 Sean McMahon, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Tom Kingston, 23 Angus Roberts.

    Force – 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Patrick Dellit, 13 Marcel Brache, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Adam Coleman, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan.
    Subs: 16 Heath Tessmann,17 Tetera Faulkner ,18 Ollie Hoskins,19 Phoenix Battye, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Justin Turner, 22 Zack Holmes, 23 Chris Tuatara-Morrison.

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    Photo: Paul Kane/Getty Images

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    Simon Borchardt