Rugby-'We've got a chance', Force eye playoffs after Moana win


SYDNEY (Reuters) - Western Force will head home from New Zealand on Wednesday determined to grasp their opportunity after rebounding from three heavy losses with a victory over Moana Pasifika that remarkably kept their Super Rugby season alive.

The Perth-based side, who were outscored 168-46 in their three previous matches against New Zealand opposition, gave themselves a glimmer of a playoff spot with a 48-28 win over Moana in Auckland on Tuesday night.

Kyle Godwin crossed for their seventh try two minutes from time to secure the bonus point that keeps them in the hunt for a quarter-final berth ahead of their final regular season match against the Wellington Hurricanes on Saturday.

"No secret, it's been a tough couple of weeks with a couple of big scorecards but immensely proud of our guys for fronting up there," said skipper Ian Prior.

"Can't wait to get home in front of our own fans and give ourselves the best chance to sneak into the finals there."

The Force came within a whisker of upsetting the competition leading Auckland Blues on the back of a huge forward effort before their three heavy losses.

Former All Blacks back Richard Kahui said the return to form of the big men up front was behind the resounding win over Moana that lifted the Force to a 3-10 record for the season.

"We've struggled in the last seven or eight weeks, had some big losses, some close losses," the Force centre said.

"The difference tonight was that our forward pack really showed up. Our lineout was outstanding, our maul, our scrum, and when you've got a platform to work off it makes it much a lot easier."

Even if they get the job done against the Hurricanes in Perth on Saturday the Force will still need help from the Melbourne Rebels, who play the Otago Highlanders in the final match of the regular season on Sunday.

"We've got an opportunity," Kahui added. "We've given ourselves that chance. If we do our bit on Saturday night, we'll be watching closely on Sunday."

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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