Pacific Super Rugby News | Fight in the top eight to the wire after the Western Force belt from the Melbourne Rebels
Western Force saw their Super Rugby Pacific final hopes dashed after a demoralizing loss to Melbourne Rebels.
The home side scored eight tries to two, earning a 52-14 win.
The bonus points win keeps the Rebels in contention for a top-eight spot with one round remaining, taking them from 16 points to 21.
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The Force entered the penultimate round of the season in eighth place but fell to ninth after the Highlanders triumphed over the Queensland Reds.
The loss allowed the Force to remain ninth.
In 11th position, Fiji Drua still have a chance to break into the top eight if they earn a bonus point against Moana Pasifika.
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That would take them from 17 points to 22 and put them level with the Highlanders in eighth with one round remaining.
The teams on the bubble all have tough competitions ahead.
An unstoppable force bursts in for the rebels
The Highlanders take on the Blues, the Rebels take on the Brumbies, the Fijian Drua take on the Reds and the Force look to upset the Chiefs.
La Force are yet to win an away game this season.
Friday’s victory was a record for the Rebels, marking their highest score in Super Rugby Pacific history and the most tries.
It was a fairytale final home appearance for Reece Hodge, who eclipsed Tom English’s club record of 98 appearances.
“It was huge,” said head coach Kevin Foote.
“First Tom English, to take his record, Tom is a champion and now Hodgey comes in and he’s the most capped rebel.
“I didn’t need too much motivation to talk about his character, everything he gives to the club, and if we can all reflect that, we’ll be fine.
“Very, very proud of Reece and proud to have coached him. From my point of view and all the staff who coach people like that, it’s really special.”
Western Force have one of the best records at home, but have been lacking away.
Head coach Simon Cron lamented the loss of possession and fundamental breakdowns.
“We were 19-7 down at one point and kicked into the corner and gave the ball back rather than creating point pressure,” he said.
“There are a lot of things in this game that we looked at. In terms of set pieces, we weren’t good today.
“Then we jump out of the process. We start playing and kicking the ball four or five times when we haven’t had it.
“Just some maintenance habits that sink in there.”
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