Super Rugby Match Preview
Friday, 9th March 2018
Rebels vs Brumbies
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kickoff: 19h45 Local Time, 08h45 GMT, 10h45 SA Time
Referee: William Houston (Australia)
Assistant referees: Graham Cooper (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: Ian Smith (Australia)
A week after setting a new club record with two wins to start a season, the Rebels are looking to continue making history on Friday night. They are hoping for a third consecutive victory for the first time in the club’s history.
They set out to buy a winning team after a dismal 2017, and so far it looks as if they may be succeeding in their quest to become Australia’s Number One Super Rugby outfit.
This week they tackle the Brumbies, who have been at the top of the Aussie pile for a while now. It might not always have been a very high pile, but the Brumbies have been the best of a bad lot for some time.
The Brumbies have stuttered along so far this year, a win over the Sunwolves and a loss to the Reds, although the latter was more as a result of their indiscipline than the endeavours of the Reds. They handed the Reds the opportunity to goal a whole lot of penalties.
This week is likely to be dour, Aussie derby stuff. Arm-wrestling rather than open running rugby, but let us not prejudge…….
Rebels have four changes to their match-day 23 for Friday’s Super Rugby clash with the Brumbies at AAMI Park in Melbourne.
Richard Hardwick, Marika Koroibete and Ben Daley are all set for their first appearances of the 2018 campaign off the bench.
They have lost their captain Adam Coleman for this derby. He is expected to miss just one week with a sternum problem suffered in last weekend’s 20-point win over the Sunwolves in Tokyo.
Ross Haylett-Petty will join brother Dane in the starting line-up for the first time this season as Ross takes Coleman’s place in the line-up.
Hardwick, Daley, and Koroibete will come on via the reserves bench.
Tom English captain the Rebels for the first time in Super Rugby.
The Brumbies have two changes to the starting line-up that was unexpectedly beaten by the Reds last weekend.
Scott Sio has recovered from injury and is named in the front-row in place of Ben Alexander, whilst flanker Lolo Fakaosilea is included from the start as Tom Cusack is named as a replacement.
Other than that, it’s the same team that took to the field at Suncorp Stadium against the Reds.
Neither side has been tested by one of the heavyweight contenders in this year’s competition. Being measured against the Sunwolves and the Reds does not really give us any idea of the form or prospects of either side.
We know that the Rebels have a considerably enhanced player base, and that they have recruited wisely in the off-season. Their strength appears to be in the back division, with a bunch of Wallabies out there, though they have a couple of big names in the forward pack too.
We know that the Brumbies have some big names too, especially in their tight five, and there are also some very good backs that can add firepower when they are on form.
The real issue, perhaps, is that the Rebels seem to be in some kind of form, and the Brumbies are still shaking off the holiday season.
Mostly, the paucity of spectators negates any real home-ground advantage any Aussie team might be looking for. However, I guess home-ground advantage will still count for something, especially if sports-mad Melbourne actually embraces the new-look Rebels. This could be a critical advantage, especially as the team seems to be in the best form of all the Aussie conference contenders.
The Brumbies failed to impress against the Sunwolves, and again failed in Brisbane. If they lose here, their season might well be over.
The Brumbies forwards are up against a better, more balanced, Rebels. The Rebels will win, by around 15 points.
Rebels: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Tom English (c), 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Sefa Naivalu, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Will Genia, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Angus Cottrell, 6 Lopeti Timani, 5 Ross Haylett-Petty, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Tetera Faulkner
Replacements: 16 Anaru Rangi, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Colby Fainga’a, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Michael Ruru, 22 Billy Meakes, 23 Marika Koroibete
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Chance Peni, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Lolo Fakaosilea, 6 Lachlan McCaffrey, 5 Sam Carter (c), 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Josh Mann-Rea, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Folau Faingaa, 17 Faalelei Sione, 18 Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, 19 Richie Arnold, 20 Tom Cusack, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Wharenui Hawera, 23 Andy Muirhead