Friday’s Rugby News has the teams of the week, club corner, George Smith on the Reds, and the Rebels looking desperate.
The Weekend is Upon Us
The weekend is upon us, and we are into round eleven.
I’m not exactly looking upon this weekend with optimism, but from that, I’m entering into a state where all I can say to all the Aussie Super Rugby teams is “come on! Prove me wrong!”
Starting this week is the Rebels, who will play in South Africa against the Stormers in Cape Town. In their eight year history, the Stockade have never won a single a match in the Republic. They’ve even won matches in New Zealand, but they still can’t win in South Africa.
The loss of Haylett-Petty will see Jack Maddocks move to fullback, while everyone else in the Rebels backline moves down a place, with Billy Meakes returning to inside centre.
In the forward pack, Lopeti Timani and Jermaine Ainsley return to the forward pack, with Sam Talakai on the bench.
Rebels Squad: Jack Maddocks, Tom English, Reece Hodge, Billy Meakes, Marika Koroibete, Jack Debreczeni, Michael Ruru, Amanaki Mafi, Angus Cottrell, Lopeti Timani, Adam Coleman (c), Matt Philip, Jermaine Ainsley, Anaru Rangi, Tetera Faulkner. Reserves: Sama Malolo, Fereti Sa’aga, Sam Talakai, Geoff Parling, Colby Fainga’a, Harrison Goddard, Semisi Tupou, Sefa Naivalu
Would it be nice if the Rebels win? Absolutely, and I really hope they do. Do I think they’re going to win? Nope. Stormers by 10.
Next up the Reds will host a Lions side that turned the Waratahs inside out and brought their fans to a whole new level of depressed.
Brad Thorn has made four changes to his side that lost to the Chiefs, with Hamish Stewart coming on for Jono Lance, JP Smith coming on for James Slipper, Jordan Petaia in for Izaia Perese, and the big one being George Smith coming into the squad, with Liam Wright being left out altogether.
Reds Squad: Aidan Toua, Filipo Daugunu, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Samu Kerevi (c), Jordan Petaia, Hamish Stewart, Ben Lucas, Caleb Timu, George Smith, Angus Scott-Young, Kane Douglas, Izack Rodda, Taniela Tupou, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, JP Smith. Reserves: Alex Mafi, Harry Hoopert, Ruan Smith, Harry Hockings, Adam Korczyk, Moses Sorovi, Duncan Paia’aua, Izaia Perese.
Yeah, this feels like another foregone conclusion. But, like I said to Thorn and all these players, for gods sake prove me wrong. Lions by 20 or more.
Finally, I’ve saved the one I’m least looking forward to for last.
My lads the Brumbies will be hosting the Crusaders in Canberra this weekend, coming off a bad weekend against the Jaguares.
The biggest loss for the home side is that of David Pocock, who has been ruled out with a calf strain. His loss sees some shifting around in the back of the scrum, with Blake Evener coming in to fill the void.
Dan McKellar has made one other additional change to the starting fifteen, with Andrew Smith named ahead of Kyle Godwin at inside centre.
Brumbies Squad: Tom Banks, Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Andrew Smith, Chance Peni, Wharenui Hawera, Joe Powell, Isi Naisarani, Tom Cusack, Blake Evener, Sam Carter (c), Rory Arnold, Allan Alaalatoa, Folau Fainga’a, Scott Sio. Reserves: Robbie Abel, Faalelei Sione, Ben Alexander, Darcy Swain, Lolo Fakaosilea, Matt Lucas, Jordan Jackson-Hope, Andy Murihead
After last week, I’m only seeing this game go one way. Crusaders by 30 or more.
But, like I said, come one Brums, prove this naysayer wrong! Throw everything at it. Play smart, leave everything out there on the paddock, and have a game plan for the last twenty minutes of the match.
The Waratahs have the bye this weekend.
The other matches of the round see the Hurricanes host the Sunwolves (Canes by forty plus), while the Blues take on a resurgent Jaguares side. I reckon the Jags have a good chance here, particularly if they continue their Aussie form.
The last match of the round will be the match of the round when the Bulls will take on the Highlanders in Pretoria. The Highlanders will be favourites for this, but the Bulls looked to have turned a corner the last few weeks, and have picked up some serious momentum with three wins on the trot.
Club Corner is back for another week, and we’ll start off this time round with the one and only Shute Shield.
Starting off, Gordon had to overcome a stubborn Penrith outfit, eventually running out 43-10 winners. Manly got their season back on track with a vital 15-23 away win against Southern Districts, the Woodies had a tough time of it, going down 38-15 to Northern Suburbs at North Sydney Oval. The Rats meanwhile made light work of Parramatta 43-15, Sydney Uni knocked off tough nut West Harbour 42-30, and finally, Randwick came from behind to defeat the Beasties in a thrilling derby, 26-19.
Round Four Fixtures:
West Harbour v Randwick
Eastern Suburbs v Manly
Penrith v Warringah
Eastwood v Southern Districts
Sydney University v Northern Suburbs
Parramatta v Gordon
The broadcast match will be the Students taking on the Shoreman in Bowral, and kick off will be at 3pm.
Next up, we head north to Queensland, as round four served us up some cracking matches in the Hospital Challenge Cup. Norths pulled off an important win, knocking over Wests 28-31 away from home. Bond Uni were kept scoreless by Easts at home 0-12, Sunnybank were hammered by Uni of Queensland 17-56, and Souths took the top of the table with a hard-fought 29-19 win over Brothers.
Round Five Fixtures:
Brothers v Bond University
Easts v Sunnybank
Norths v GPS
Wests v Souths
University of Queensland will have the bye.
Heading south, we stop by the Nation’s Capital and check out the John I Dent Cup. Round Three saw Royals hammer Gungahlin 38-5, Uni-Norths put on a brave display to hold Tuggeranong to a 17-17 draw, and Queanbeyan maintain their ranking at the top of the table with a 20-26 win over Wests.
Round Four Fixtures:
Easts v Royals
Queanbeyan v Tuggeranong
Gungahlin v Wests
Uni-Norths will have the bye.
Down in Melbourne, Victorian rugby fans got their first taste of club rugby with round one of the Dewar Shield. Melbourne Rugby Club got their season off to a flyer with a 0-64 drubbing of Endeavour Hills, Footscray fell at home 22-27 to Harlequins, Melbourne Uni overcome a determined Box Hill outfit 36-17, while Moorabbin won 41-24 at home against Power House.
Round Two Fixtures:
Box Hill v Footscray
Harlequin v Moorabbin
Melbourne v Melbourne Uni
Power House v Endeavour Hills
And finally, we head across the Nullaboor to Perth for the Premier Grade, which saw some serious rugby dished out. Associates continued their good form with a 11-28 away win over Palmyra, Wests Scarborough were beaten at home by Nedlands 22-27, the Cavaliers were similarly underdone by Kalamunda 20-47, Waneroo were hammered by UWA 12-63, and ARKs continued the bad run for the home teams with a 19-24 loss against Perth Bayswater.
The only one who bucked the trend were the Southern Lions, who defeated Joondalup in the match of the round, 35-31.
Round Four Fixtures:
Cottesloe v Palmyra
Associates v Wests Scarborough
Nedlands v ARKs
Joondalup v Coastal Cavaliers
UWA v Southern Lions
Perth Bayswater v Wanneroo Districts
Kalamunda have the bye.
Keep enjoying your club rugby, and remember to get along to some games this weekend. It’s sure as hell a lot better to watch than the Super Rugby at the moment.
Dial R for Revolution
There’s a lot of young blood in the Reds this weekend, and many are questioning why young gun Hamish Stewart is coming in ahead of Quade Cooper.
Absolute legend George Smith however has made it clear that to assume that Cooper’s omission is hurting the club is too simplistic a mindset.
“I’ve spoken to Quade and we speak about normal things rather than football … that conversation (about his Reds snubbing) has already been determined by Brad,” Smith said to Fox Sports.
“Is it a new era? If you look across our team there’s a number of new players, so you could say it is but not in terms of Quade.
“There’s a list of players who aren’t in the team from last season and that’s the way things develop in time.”
The Reds have the youngest squad in Super Rugby, with an average age of 24 and eleven players under the age of 21.
“It’s been written that our attack hasn’t been great, but everything’s built on defence and last week, especially early, it wasn’t great,” Smith said.
However, some are hoping that the Queenslanders, with Smith back in and Samu Kerevi taking charge, can pull this one out of the fire.
The Reds this weekend will wear their club rugby socks in recognition of Rugby Family Round, which aims to celebrate grassroots rugby.
Records are made to be broken
As mentioned earlier, the Rebels have never won a game in South Africa, and they’re bloody keen to change that.
No one is more keen than South African-born coach Dave Wessels.
With Adam Coleman officially back to taking on skipper duties, Wessels will hope his team can pull together a big performance.
To have Adsy back is great for the team,” Wessels said to rugby.com.au.
“He’s actually trained very well this week.
“I think if we can play with similar intensity to the way that we did in Pretoria (against the Bulls) and hopefully get a bit more luck… then I think we give ourselves a good chance.
“The Stormers have got the second-most line breaks in the comp and we’ve scored the third-most tries so both the teams like to attack.
“The Stormers tend to grow another leg when they are at Newlands as well.
“They played the last three games away from home so for them playing at home will be a big boost.”
Wessels himself was originally from Cape Town, and the city is currently going through a major water crisis that could see it be the first major city in the world to run out of water.
“But fortunately we’ve brought a bit of luck to the city. There’s been two or three days of rain since we’ve got here,” Wessels said.
Hopefully, the drought being broken in Cape Town bodes well for the Rebels this weekend (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist).
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