Flyhalf Sias Ebersohn will need to be on target with his goal-kicking if the Force are to beat the Reds in Brisbane on Saturday, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.
The former Cheetah, who qualifies to play for the Wallabies at the end of 2015, controlled the game well for the Force in their shock 25-13 win against the champion Waratahs in Sydney last weekend.
The 25-year-old played the full 80 minutes, passing on 10 occasions, kicking nine times and making a couple of tackles, but was successful with just two of his six shots at goal.
It didn't matter much, as the Force scored four tries, but it will at Suncorp Stadium if it's a tighter contest.
Ebersohn will be directly up against James O'Connor and Karmichael Hunt at various times in the game, with the two Reds backs set to 'split' the role on some first phase and attacking situations, even though O'Connor will wear the No 10 jersey.
In the other change to the Reds XV that was thrashed 47-3 by the Brumbies in Canberra, former All Black Adam Thomson will start his first Vodacom Super Rugby match since 2012 at blindside flank.
The Force have made two changes to their starting lineup, with former UCT loosehead prop Francois van Wyk replacing the injured Pek Cowan and Zack Holmes promoted to fullback in the absence of the injured Dane Haylett-Petty.
Another ex-UCT prop, Chris Heiberg, who played seven matches for Western Province, will make his Super Rugby debut if he comes off the bench.
The Perth franchise will go into Saturday's match as favourites, having won their last two matches in Brisbane (19-12 in 2013 and 32-29 in 2014).
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Reds 5, Force 5, Draw 1
In Brisbane: Reds 4, Force 2
STATS & FACTS
– The Force scored four tries against the Waratahs in Sydney last Sunday, becoming the first team to subject to the 2014 champions to four tries conceded since the Hurricanes in June 2012.
– The Force have won four and lost none (drawn one) of their last five against the Reds.
– The Force are aiming to win their first two matches of the season for the first time.
– The Reds were last defeated in their first two games of the season in 2009.
– The Reds suffered their heaviest loss since March 2012 (61-8 vs Bulls) in round one against the Brumbies (47-3).
– The Reds have lost their last four home games against fellow Australian sides, with that run beginning the last time they hosted the Force, however the Reds lost three of those games by just three points.
|Team||Top point-scorer||Top try-scorer||Most metres gained||Most tackles|
|Reds||Karmichael Hunt (3)||n/a||Lachlan Turner (25)||Liam Gill (14)|
|Force||Angus Cottrell, Chris Alcock, Francois van Wyk & Luke Morahan (5)||Angus Cottrell, Chris Alcock, Francois van Wyk & Luke Morahan (1)||Dane Haylett-Petty (51)||Kyle Godwin (13)|
Reds – 15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Chris Kuridrani, 13 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Lachie Turner, 10 James O'Connor, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 James Horwill, 4 Marco Kotze, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Saia Fainga'a, 1 James Slipper (c).
Subs: 16 James Hanson, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Sef Faagase, 19 Tom Murday, 20 Curtis Browning, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Sam Johnson, 23 Campbell Magnay.
Force – 15 Zack Holmes, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Solomoni Jnr Rasolea, 11 Marcel Brache, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Sam Wykes (c), 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Francois van Wyk.
Subs: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Oliver Hoskins, 19 Steve Mafi, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Luke Burton, 23 Mitchell Scott.
Photo: Will Russell/Getty Images