Preview: Crusaders V Rebels - Green and Gold Rugby
Melbourne Rebels

Preview: Crusaders V Rebels

Preview: Crusaders V Rebels
Preview: Crusaders V Rebels

It’s almost a case of last man standing for the Melbourne Rebels as they take on the challenge of one of Super Rugby’s toughest trips; crossing the Tasman to play the Crusaders in Christchurch.

This will be the fifth time the two teams have played each other, their records stand at two wins each – one home and one away. The last time they played was in Round One of 2015 at AMI Stadium. On that occasion the Rebels celebrated their first (and only) win in New Zealand, defeating the Crusaders 20-10. That was the first time the Crusaders had lost at home to an Australian team since 2004.

Last week, a severely undermanned Rebels played their hearts out against the Cape Town Stormers. They eventually gave up four tries in the last fifteen minutes of the game to lose by 26. The Crusaders lost out against the Chiefs in a battle for top spot in the Australasian Conference, 23-13. The match notable as being the first Super Rugby game to be played in Suva, Fiji.

The Rebels celebrate a magnificent win in Christchurch

Crusaders

The Crusaders find themselves a solitary point behind conference leaders the Chiefs. No doubt they will be targeting this game as an opportunity to pick up a bonus point win and keep the pressure on the Chiefs for that prized top spot.

They will miss Kieran Reid, who has the most try assists of any forward in Super Rugby this year, but they have quality players in every position across the park. Their home record is, to say the least, imposing. They will be shooting for their sixth straight win at home, their previous five home wins have all been by over fifteen points. Their record hosting Aussie sides since 2004 stands at 25 wins, one loss and one draw.

This season the Cru are averaging around four tries per game. They’ll be wanting more than that this week against the Rebels though.

The Crusader scrum is among the strongest in the competition and they have very capable line out jumpers, even without Reid. Look for them to try and dominate the Rebels through the set piece where they were simply smashed by the Stormers.

The Crusaders goal kicking success is a middling 71% but that looks stellar in comparison to the Rebels 62%, the worst in the competition.

REBELS

Losing players to injury has been a massive problem for the Rebels all season. Earlier this week it appeared that they might struggle to find 23 fit players to take the field. This week sees seven personnel changes to last week’s starting side with only three players named in the same positions, compared to the side that played the Stormers. Captain Nic Stirzacker, Adam Thomson and Mike Harris have been selected but, Luke Jones (concussion), Lopeti Timani (concussion), Sean McMahon (groin) and Mitch Inman will all be missed.

One positive to come from this is that two Victorian players are named in the side.  Fresh from Australian Under 20’s duties, Sione Tuipulotu will start at Centre, while Rob Leota could make his debut off the bench.  Coach, Tony McGahan stated, “The inclusion of Sione and Rob is a historic milestone for the Melbourne Rebels and a fitting reward for the hard work of everyone behind the scenes in Victorian Rugby to develop local talent”.

The Rebels will try to hold on to the ball and work their way through phases. They actually have the best ruck success (96%) of any side in the competition and have scored more tries (twelve) than any other team after 7+ phases. The big question will be how their defence holds up against the attacking flair of the Kiwi side.

KEY MATCH UPS

Ryan Crotty Vs Sione Tuipulotu

A classic case of the veteran versus the tyro. With over 100 Super Rugby games and eighteen All Blacks caps, Crotty has a wealth of experience and is a class player. Tuipulotu is just back from the Under 20s World Cup where he played very well, forcing his way into the starting side. He had an excellent starting debut against the Reds in round three and is definitely a player to watch for the future.

Sione Tuipulotu

Richie Mo’unga Vs Jack Debreczeni

Debreczeni’s form has been up and down and he looks to be up against it playing opposite Mo’unga but, should be a lot more comfortable with Mike Harris back in the side at full back. Debreczeni will need to start well and get his confidence up early if he hopes to have a positive influence.

Richie Mo’unga

TEAMS

Canterbury Crusaders 

1 Alex Hodgman
2 Codie Taylor
3 Owen Franks
4 Scott Barrett
5 Sam Whitelock
6 Jordan Taufua
7 Matt Todd
8 Jimmy Tupou
9 Andy Ellis
10 Richie Mo’unga
11 Nemani Nadolo
12 David Havili
13 Ryan Crotty
14 Johnny McNicholl
15 Israel Dagg

16 Ben Funnell
17 Wyatt Crockett
18 Michael Alaalatoa
19 Luke Romano
20 Peter Samu
21 Mitchell Drummond
23 Kieron Fonotia
22 Mitch Hunt

Melbourne Rebels

1 Toby Smith
2 James Hanson
3 Laurie Weeks
4 Sam Jeffries
5 Culum Retallick
6 Jordy Reid
7 Colby Fainga’a
8 Adam Thomson
9 Nic Stirzaker
10 Jack Debreczeni
11 Tom English
12 Reece Hodge
13 Sione Tuipulotu
14 Sefanaia Naivalu
15 Mike Harris

16 Pat Leafa
17 Cruze Ah-Nau
18 Jamie Hagan
19 Steve Cummins
20 Rob Leota
21 Ben Meehan
23 Jonah Placid
22 Paul Asquith

PREDICTION

I don’t think too many people will be tipping the Rebels this week but, I’m optimistic. I expect the Rebels to fight out the game and push the Crusaders for the full eighty minutes, OK, maybe fifty minutes.

Crusaders by 15.

MATCH DETAILS

Date: Saturday 9th July 2016

Venue: Christchurch Stadium, Christchurch

Kick Off: 5:35pm (AEST)

Referee: Glen Jackson

Assistants: Jamie Nutbrown, Angus Mabey

TMO: Aaron Paterson

Weather Forecast: maximum 10º, sunny. Should be around 4º by kick off

Statistics courtesy of Opta Sports

  • Nick

    Yeah looks doubtful for the Rebels but CARN YOU REBELS anyway.

  • Tim

    i feel for the rebels i think they will get a beatdown

Melbourne Rebels

I like film cameras, LP records and one-handed backhands... and rugby. I hope rugby doesn't go the way of film cameras, LP records and one-handed backhands.

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