The Western Force are refusing to buy into the Melbourne Rebels' slow start to the season, preparing for an ambush at HBF Park. 

Whilst the Rebels have managed just one win to start the season, they showed significant improvements before their bye, almost upsetting the Waratahs before holding on for victory against the Fijian Drua.

This has the Force expecting a brutal encounter at HBF Park on Friday, where the Rebels have won two of their last three encounters.

"They have improved a lot, they have players coming back from injury...If you look at their form, they're trending right," back-rower Tim Anstee said. 

“We can take some confidence out of that first game...So it's going to be a tough contest, that's for sure."

Coming off the bye, Rebels scrumhalf James Tuttle noticed the confidence grow throughout the Drua victory and believes they are rejuvenated following the tough start to the season.

“When you start strong, it brings in belief and the energy really lifts," he told reporters.

“We saw that every time we won a scrum penalty, the boys were around each other. Every time we scored a try the boys were around each other.

“That was something we probably went away from in the earlier parts of the season so it was great to perform the way we did so then we were able to celebrate together and enjoy the small wins on the field, which then again, boosts the energy.”

The Force have their own motivation, eager to send coach Tim Sampson out on a high.

Sampson will be replaced by Toyota Verblitz head coach Simon Cron at the end of the season, ending his half-decade long tenure at the club.

Having guided them back to Super Rugby, the Force players were keen to repay his efforts and push for the finals.

"We’ve still got the rest of the season with Sambo (Sampson), so that’s our main focus at the moment, finish the season well for Sambo," fullback Jake Strachan added.

“He’s done a lot for the club. We’re here to get the job done.”