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Super Rugby
Giant-killing Force staying grounded
March 23, 2014
Wilhelm Steenkamp celebrates Western Force's win over the Chiefs, Western Force v Chiefs, Super Rugby, nib Stadium, Australia, March 22, 2014
The Western Force stunned the Chiefs keeping the champions tryless © Getty Images
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Western Force coach Michael Foley insists it's too early to think about finals action just yet despite his team's stirring 18-15 Super Rugby triumph over the defending champion Chiefs in Perth on Saturday night. Consecutive wins over the Rebels, Highlanders and Chiefs have lifted the Force to within two points of third spot ahead of their bye week.

The Chiefs - winners of the past two Super titles - simply had no answers to the Force's steely defence, with the New Zealand outfit held tryless in Australia for the first time since 2001.

But the Force's latest win could come at a major cost, with halfback Alby Mathewson cited for trampling and forwards Hugh McMeniman (shoulder) and Kieran Longbottom (head) left nursing injuries.

McMeniman has a history of shoulder issues and the Force have their fingers crossed his latest injury isn't serious. Longbottom was taken to hospital after copping a knee to the head while making a try-saving tackle. Both players will be monitored ahead of the Force's clash with the Queensland Reds in Brisbane on April 5.

Mathewson is facing suspension after he was charged with stamping on Chiefs flanker Sam Cane in the early minutes of the game.

The Western Force win their third consecutive game in a tight match against the Chiefs (Australia Only)

The Force have the chance to win a franchise-record four consecutive games when they take on the Reds in a fortnight. And although confidence is sky high amongst the player group, Foley said it was still too early in the season to think about a finals berth.

"If you bottle some of the great stuff out of the last three weeks, I think we can go on to have a good season," Foley said. "But we haven't had a good season yet. We've only had three wins. Last year we won four games and drew one, so we haven't even achieved that yet.

"The performances are well in excess of what we saw last year, but there's a lot of work to do. I think if you do enough things right, eventually you'll get there [finals]."

Force skipper Matt Hodgson was left bloody and bruised after the win over the Chiefs. But he said every bit of pain was worth it after his two tries set up one of the Force's greatest wins.

"I think I'm up there with the leading try scorers this year, for a total of three metres for each try," Hodgson joked of his three tries. "But I don't play to score tries. I play for the wins."


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