Super Rugby Melbourne Rebels v. Sharks preview 2011
Melbourne Rebels

Fish and Cips: Rebels v. Shorks Preview

Fish and Cips: Rebels v. Shorks Preview

The Rebels return from a defeat on their first roadtrip, to face an unbeaten Shorks line-up at AAMI Park on Friday Night. Both teams showed some moments of brilliance last week, mixed in with some simple errors. Unfortunately for this Rebel faithful, the Rebels had less brilliance, and the Shorks had fewer errors.

The Rebels are sitting at the bottom of the Australian Conference, which is commonly deemed to be the weakest, even though their record is 1-and-2 — same as the Brumbies, and better than the injury-plagued Force. After losing a game they never looked settled in last week, against the Chiefs in a sparsely filled Hamilton Stadium, the Rebels will look to make a mark on the competition against the unbeaten Shorks at a loud and proud AAMI Park.

The Shorks, who lead both the South African Conference and the overall table, have some serious pressure mounting on them. They have not conceded a try this season, and if they were to do that against the newest side in Super Rugby, some questions would be asked of them. The Shorks are playing for competition points, and should see anything less than 5 points out of this game as a failed mission.

Melbourne have been fortunate with injuries the last two rounds, and O’Neill, who was a late withdrawal from the second row last week with a calf injury, should return to his starting spot on Friday. This should lead to nearly the same side being named three weeks running, which can only be a good thing for a team still developing combinations.

JP Pietersen is the big name out for the Durban-based side, with a question mark still hanging over Ndungane after being Force’d into the ground by Rory Sidey early last weekend. Lwazi the replacement winger looked good in his run last week, and could prove a handful for the defensively suspect Cooper Vuna.

The Shorks will look to wear down the Rebel pack with their size and brute strength, taking advantage of any miscommunication or errors their debutant-season opponents may make. The pure size of the pack (their No. 7 Willem Alberts is a massive 117kg) will be hard to counter, with the depth of replacement backs their only concern. Patrick Lambie at flyhalf has been spoken about at length, and as well as being a reasonable points-scorer on fantasy rugby sites (at a good price), he seems to threaten a line-break every time he is handling the ball either by himself, or with his passes.

Melbourne will look to be more aggressive, as Coach Macqueen has promised, and after a tough trip across the “dutch” the return of Mr Rugby More Better, Adam Freier, to the training circuit should help lift spirits (hopefully not vodka though). The Rebels will look at using the ball better when they have possession, as too many times in previous weeks they have lost ground, or control at the breakdown. With Cipriani at 10, Huxley 12, and Gerrard’s super boot at 15, the Rebels have plenty of tactical kicking options. Look for the sneaky grubber, or banana from Cipriani’s left boot, Huxley’s crossfield kick-pass or Gerrard to boot it 60 metres into touch. If the Rebels manage to keep the Shorks in their own half, and stamp out silly indiscretions and the plethora of missed tackles from previous matches, they will be a good chance in front of their vocal home crowd.

On a side note, after the atrocity that was displayed by one J. Kaplan at the same venue a fortnight ago, SANZAR has brought in the in-form referee Chris Pollock to adjudicate, which should help prevent any quarterback-style pass tries.

Teams: TBA.

My betting man’s tip is the unbeaten Shorks to continue their run and keep their scored-against column at “0 Tries”: 35 – 12.

Personally, I will be tipping the Rebels by 3 points, as I feel that if they sense a opportunity they could win, they will run away with it.

Match Details:

Rebels v. Sharks

Friday 11 March, 7.40pm AEDST

AAMI Park, Melbourne

  • bones

    Great title. The line out for the Rebs was surprisingly weak last week, but I guess a lot of this can be put down to O’Neill pulling out at the last moment. The hooker kept overthrowing or underthrowing, causing me to throw up. Rebels have to at least win their own lineout ball to have any chance. Also their scrum got well beaten I thought.

  • I believe 8 line out losses on their own throw. Quite poor for a club side, yet alone a Super side. O’Neill should shore it up, plus he has been a great contributor around the ground, also has a handy grubber kick for a big man, watch out for it.

    Wanted to include a comment about the amount of crooked lineout/scrum throws there were last week, but decided that it was Mardi Gras, and the Refs were letting them be “not straight” for a night.

    Scrum will be a worry against an all Springbok front row, kg for kg they only lose 10-15kg in the front row. the size of the rest of their pack is huge, which could cause some issues… Hopefully Yoda takes his own advice “size matters not”…

  • Hawko

    Was it irony that raised the comment about Chris Pollock being the Sanzar “in form” referee who could stamp out gridiron passes? He couldn’t seem to do this in his last outing over the ditch.

  • Baldric

    Nice one TT. I think we will get monstered in the scrums. Hopefully we can have parity in the lineouts and I would like to see something creative from the backs. Too much kicking so far.

  • Lance Free

    I’m personally very disappointed with the Rebels midfield. They’ve looked pedestrian in all their outings (and combo’s).I was certainly expecting more especially from Hux.

    Their forwards are going to get monstered. Sharks by 30+.

  • rolandw

    This looks like an attempt to produce some interest in our Aussie team games this week. With our only two hopes having the bye this week, i think it will be a dry weekend for points in the Aussie conference.

    Very optimistic to even suggest Melbourne have a chance. Brumbies will be “also ran’s” and the farce aren’t the same team without Pocock. I see they have just recruited another Queenslander into their team. What does that put the count at now?

  • I personally thought a sharks outfit of that ilk would have scored more against an injury and card depleted side. Take away the last 10 min, and the sharks, struggled to score any real points.

    Back line certainly isn’t firing, not sure how or when it will, in interim, defense needs to step up a lot.

    Notes of sarcasm, but sharks have never played in Melbourne.

    I’m a pessimist who is enthusiastic about the Rebels, hence my split opinion.

  • WithaRebelYell

    I’m taking an apron, I don’t want to get splattered with human reamins from the bloodbath.

    This could get ugly.

    (Go Rebels!)

Melbourne Rebels
@Travi34

A Rugby Tragic turned Tragic Rugby Player. Recently made his highly anticipated playing debut, whilst supporting the Melbourne Rebels, with the rest of the Rebel Army. Biggest claim to fame is being born in the same hospital as Ewen "Link" McKenzie. Follow Travis on twitter (@Travi34) for general rugby nonsense, and the occasional humourous anecdote.

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