Defence backbone of Force success

Thu, 17 Apr 2014 09:09
Large angus cottrell force

Force flank Angus Cottrell said the key to the team's record breaking start to their Super Rugby campaign is defence.

Western Force flank Angus Cottrell said the key to the team's record breaking start to the 2014 Super Rugby campaign is down to the belief in their defensive structures.

The Force bounced back from successive losses against the Waratahs and the Brumbies in the first two rounds, in which they leaked in nine tries, to post five consecutive victories - a new franchise record - and only concede seven tries in the meantime.

The team's defensive effort was epitomised in last Saturday's 28-16 victory over the Waratahs in Perth, where the team was starved to only one-third of the possession and required to make 169 tackles to the Waratahs' 63.

The home side was significantly disadvantaged in the weight of the pack, and only had 75 phases in attack compared to the Waratahs, who had more than double that with 159.

Cottrell said that the team's belief on the back of these consecutive victories continues to play a major part in getting them over the line.

"We have the belief that we can hold the big teams out and we know that when we defend well, the results will come," the 191cm powerhouse back row forward said.

"The confidence in each other and wanting to win the game for the guy next to you really shines through, like against the Waratahs.

"In Round Two against the Waratahs, we weren't sticking to our systems - people were defending as individuals, and we were very passive against the Brumbies. The real team effort came through against the Rebels when we shut down their attack.

"The Waratahs are one of the best attacking sides and after giving us a big serving in Sydney, Saturday's victory was fabulous, particularly as we limited their number of tries."

In contrast to the broader rugby community's surprise at the Perth-based franchise's excellent form, the 24-year-old revealed that internally, the squad is far from it themselves.

 "The team has put in a lot of hard work the last 18 months since Michael Foley arrived and whilst taking a little while to gel, the results reflect the work we've been putting in," he said.

 "I'm really proud how we played against the Highlanders, starting with a big Kieran Longbottom hit in the first thirty seconds. He played the full eighty minutes which is remarkable for a tighthead prop and to push the kicker [conversion to draw the game] a little bit extra made a huge difference."

In what Western Force head coach Michael Foley described as "Test-match intensity" - where hooker Nathan Charles collapsed as a result of exhaustion - Cottrell is confident that there is the cavalry in the squad to cover any injuries.

"It's always tough because the body does take a pounding each week," he said.

"Even though a few new guys are coming into the squad this week, everyone knows the systems so it shouldn't be a problem. Come Friday night against the Rebels, we'll be raring to go, once again!"

Source: Force media unit

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