Tongan trial for Force

Tue, 22 Jan 2013 08:18
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The Western Force will travel to Darwin to take on the Brumbies before returning to host a Tongan Select XV in Mandurah in their two pre-season fixtures next month.

The Western Force will travel to Darwin to take on the Brumbies before returning to host a Tongan Select XV in Mandurah in their two pre-season fixtures next month.

The two pre-season fixtures will provide the public with the first opportunity to see the Western Force's new-look line-up in action under the tutelage of the squad's new coaching staff ahead of the 2013 Super Rugby season.

The Western Australian side will head to the Northern Territory to face the Brumbies on Friday, February 1 - the second successive year in which the two sides have squared off in a pre-season match in 'the top end'.

The Western Force will then return to Perth to take on a Tongan Select XV on Friday, February 8 at Meadow Springs Sporting Ground - home of the Mandurah Pirates.

The visiting side will be made up of non-contracted Tongan-eligible players from Australia, New Zealand and Tonga.

The match will be preceded by a curtain-raiser featuring Force 'A' and Perth Kiwi, featuring players of New Zealand origin competing in the Pindan Premier Grade.

The two sides will play for the Mike Denton Cup, named after New Zealand-born Nedlands, Western Force 'A' and Perth Gold flyhalf, Michael Denton, who tragically died while on holiday in Bali in 2011.

Western Force head coach Michael Foley said both matches will provide a stern test prior to the start of the 2013 Super Rugby season.

"I've been pleased with the progress of our pre-season and these trials will provide a strong finish to our preparations ahead of our first game against the Rebels," he said.

"The Brumbies were one of the benchmark Australian sides last year and this is a good chance for us to test ourselves and our systems against one of the better performing teams of 2012. Likewise, the Tongan side will provide a solid final hit-out and no doubt a big physical challenge prior to our first game.

"I cannot fault the efforts of this squad during the pre-season and it's important that we maintain the standards we've set into the trials and the start of the Super Rugby season."

The Western Force will kick off their 2013 Super Rugby campaign against the Rebels in Melbourne on Friday, 15 February.

Western Force pre-season fixtures:
Friday, February 1: Brumbies v Western Force - Marrara Rugby Oval, Darwin. Kick-off: 19.30 (10.00 GMT)
Friday, February 8: Western Force v Tonga Select XV - Meadow Springs Sporting Ground, Meadow Springs. Kick-off: 19.00 (11.00 GMT)

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