Sport Rebels and Force battle for finals berth
The most relieved man in Super Rugby
Jack McGregor's sheepish smile said it all. The Western Force fullback was Super Rugby's most relieved man.The Western Force fullback was Super Rugby's most relieved man after his botched kick to touch nearly cost a crucial 16-15 victory over the Melbourne Rebels on Friday.
The Western Force are approaching their Super Rugby AU match against Melbourne with a finals mentality, as the two bitter rivals scrap for the third play-off berth.
Unbeaten Queensland and the Brumbies, whose only loss has come against the Reds, effectively have two finals spots sewn up with three rounds to play.
Ahead of their Friday night clash at AAMI Park, the Rebels hold a four-point lead over the Force, who are ahead of the trailing Waratahs by the same margin.
Force coach Tim Sampson said his team recognised how important beating the Rebels was.
Battered and bruised Rebels get no sympathy
His team is battered and bruised but Melbourne Rebels coach Dave Wessels isn't offering any sympathy.Tim Anstee's late try and Domingo Miotti's conversion put the Force in front before Rebels fullback Reece Hodge missed a late drop goal in a wild finish at AAMI Park.
"It is a finals-type game - that's been discussed this week - the importance of this game with just two rounds left after this fixture," Sampson said.
The Force have shaken up their side, naming four Argentine internationals including halves Tomas Cubelli and Domingo Miotti, while former Wallaby Kyle Godwin will make his first appearance of the year after recovering from a foot injury.
Video: Hunt denied try by forward pass call (Wide World of Sports)
As well as taking over the captaincy Godwin will start at inside centre, while the Rebels also have a new No.12 with Olympic Sevens star Lewis Holland set for his first start.
Godwin, 28, played with Holland back in the Australian under 20s, and expected him to be a handful.
Defeat leaves Rebels' Super finals at risk
The Melbourne Rebels could have all but secured a Super Rugby AU finals berth with a win over the Western Force, but a late lapse could prove very costly.The Rebels led a gritty AAMI Park match until the 77th minute when Domingo Miotti converted a late try for the Force.
"He's been a great sevens player and he's made the transition to 15s and came off the bench last week and went really well so I'm sure they're rewarding that," Godwin said.
"He's a ball-playing centre so we definitely know the strengths that he brings so we will be sure to look to nullify that."
Melbourne skipper Matt Toomua said his team was looking to rebound from a disappointing last outing against the Reds, and also try to get some clear air on the chasing Force.
"If you get this win you all but guarantee a finals position," Toomua said.
"But probably the biggest storyline for us is to get some respect back from what we against the Reds as that was well below what we expect of ourselves.
"We're not short on motivation for this match, that's for sure."
Timani 'surprised' by Wallabies interest .
He spent seven years in France, but Sitaleki Timani has hit the ground running since returning to Australia to play for the Western Force.Timani played the last of his 18 Tests in 2013 , with the 34-year-old leaving Super Rugby that year in order to play in France.