Western Force wary of unpredictable Rebels

JUSTIN CHADWICK
Last updated 17:21 06/03/2014

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The Western Force will go back to basics this week in a bid to end their Super Rugby losing funk.

The Force were comprehensively beaten by the Waratahs and Brumbies in the opening two rounds, and they'll face another stern challenge in Perth on Saturday night when they take on the in-form Rebels.

Poor clearance kicking has hurt the Force this season, and they know they'll be made to pay if they repeat the errors against a Rebels outfit that seem to thrive on unstructured play.

"We haven't nailed it in the past couple of weeks," Force fullback Jayden Hayward said on Thursday.

"We've simplified things a bit and gone back to the basics. Hopefully we can get down to the right area of the field ... and put the pressure back on.

"The Rebels can make something out of nothing. We're going to have to be on our game and try to go to the set pieces more often."

The Rebels were impressive in last week's 35-14 win over the Cheetahs.

The Melbourne-based outfit have won their past two clashes in Perth, and hold a four-match winning streak against the Force.

All six games between the two sides have been decided by seven points or less, and Hayward is expecting another tight tussle.

"It's a big occasion as well - Hodgo's 100th game," Hayward said in reference to skipper Matt Hodgson.

"There's a lot of motivation there for this week. We've lost our first two games so it's hugely important we get a 'W' on the board this week."

Wallabies flanker Hugh McMeniman, who injured his neck in last week's 27-14 loss to the Brumbies, is expected to miss the Rebels clash.

Hayward was overlooked for selection in the season-opening loss to NSW, but was impressive when he came off the bench against the Brumbies last week.

The 27-year-old has been handed a start this week, and believes his three-month-old beard is already bringing him good luck after he crossed for his maiden Super try in his 35th appearance last Saturday.

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- AAP

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