Force aim to extend horror Brumbies run

Western Force will be out to stretch the Brumbies' six-season hoodoo of last-round Super Rugby losses when they meet in Friday's crucial clash in Canberra.

The horror run was started by the Force in 2008 when they beat the Brumbies 29-22 at Patersons Stadium, while the WA club's 21-15 victory at nib Stadium last year cost the visitors an all- important top-two finish.

History may be on the Force's side but prop Pek Cowan said they were treating the game as a final.

The Brumbies and Force are sixth and seventh respectively. The winner gets a play-off appearance. The loser could still qualify for the finals if they salvaged at least one bonus point and had other results go their way.

"Last week was a final for us and not much has changed. To still be in control of our own fate is exactly how we want to be," Cowan said.

Scrum-half Alby Mathewson, who injured his hip in the loss to the Blues a fortnight ago, is expected to play but fly-half Sias Ebersohn, who damaged a bicep in that game, is unlikely to make the trip.

Zack Holmes, who started at No.10 in Saturday's win over Queensland, has recovered from a leg knock while centre Marcel Brache, who suffered a nasty head gash, trained yesterday.

Cowan identified the Brumbies' set piece as one of their biggest attacking threats.

"The Brumbies are a great defensive team and have a great set piece. Those two combined can really create a lot of pressure," Cowan said.

"Their set piece, their scrum, their line-out's a pretty big weapon. They win a lot of quality ball there. They don't like to play a lot of football in their half and that's how they strangle teams. We need to make sure we don't fall victim to that and play an equally smart kicking game."

Cowan said the Force could not afford the lapses they suffered against the Reds.

"The first 20 minutes (against the Reds) set the standard," he said.

"It put us in this position, our attitude was right. Making sure that we don't have lapses and allow the Brumbies back into the contest is a big thing for us."

As one of two foundation players still with the club, with captain Matt Hodgson, Cowan said he would not be looking ahead at a possible first finals appearance.

"It would be fantastic and the fact that we've got that opportunity is a little bit surreal," he said.

"They don't like to play a lot of football in their half and that's how they strangle teams.""Western Force prop *Pek Cowan *on the Brumbies

The West Australian

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