The West

Foley makes early mark at Force
Jayden hayward figured at centre for the Force against the Brumbies. Pic: Sharon Smith/WA News

Western Force coach Michael Foley produced a couple of surprises in his new-look back line in the 20-18 pre-season trial loss to the ACT Brumbies in Darwin on Friday.

Foley, in his first game at the helm, played centre-winger Will Tupou at full-back and shifted Paddy Dellit, who had played only full-back or outside centre for the Force, to one wing and Alfie Mafi, who had an outstanding season last year at No.15, to the other.

He also brought Australian Junior World Cup fly-half Kyle Godwin off the bench and into inside centre, effectively giving his side two playmakers.

The rest of the starting back line was made up of new faces - scrum-half Alby Mathewson, fly-half Sias Ebersohn and centres Jayden Hayward and Chris Tuatara-Morrison.

Tupou's 2012 season was disrupted by injury, and Foley had spoken to him about changing roles.

"Will is a good all-round footballer," Foley said.

"He has physical abilities, he is good under the high ball, he has a good kicking game and the ability to beat players with a good swerve. We talked about playing him in a different role and it could suit him."

It was not unexpected that, with 13 new faces in the trial squad, the Force did not click early in the game.

"The first 20 minutes was pretty rusty," Foley said.

"Some combinations in attack and defence were down and when you are working with new systems it only takes one person to be out of sync and it can break down.

"The longer it went on we took more control. If we had played in the first quarter the way we played in the last 50, we would have been ecstatic."

By the 50-minute mark Foley had changed his starting forward pack of front row Salesi Ma'afu, Nathan Charles and Pek Cowan, second-rowers Toby Lynn and Hugh McMeniman and back three Matt Hodgson, Richard Brown and Ben McCalman. No starting player stayed on for the full 80 minutes.

Captain Hodgson was happy with the performance.

"Apart from that early period we were happy with our combinations," he said. "We are a long way ahead of this time last year."

Ebersohn opened the scoring with an early penalty. The Brumbies hit back with a try to Matt Toomua, converted by Christian Lealiifano, who extended the lead with a penalty before former Wallaby Clyde Rathbone marked his return to rugby with a converted try.

McMeniman crashed over and Ebersohn converted, before Lealiifano added another three-pointer for a 20-10 half-time lead.

Godwin opened the scoring in the second half with a penalty and Junior Rasolea touched down in the corner, unconverted, before a last-ditch Godwin penalty attempt slipped past the post after the siren.

"The first 20 minutes was pretty rusty … The longer it went on we took more control.""Western Force coach *Michael Foley *

The West Australian

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