Preview: Brumbies v. Blues - Green and Gold Rugby
ACT Brumbies

Preview: Brumbies v. Blues

Preview: Brumbies v. Blues

The Brumbies are back in Canberra after their two-match Southern Hemisphere tour but they won’t have time to settle in from their extensive travel schedule as they take on the Auckland Blues on Saturday who, in contrast, have had the week off.

The Australian conference and overall ladder are congested with only four competition points separating the fifth place Bulls and these two sides in 11th and 12th place respectively so this is a crucial game in that context.

It is also the first of three home games over four weeks for the Brumbies so now is the time for them to stand up if they want to feature in the post-season and gain some consistency, something that has plagued them throughout 2019.

For this week, the Brumbies are giving a debut to Len Ikitau at outside centre in place of Tevita Kuridrani. Ikitau is a promising player and has been playing for the Vikings in the NRC and there’s no harder debut as he comes up against the Blues midfield of Ma’a Nonu and TJ Faiane, who will no doubt be targeting the new comer with plenty of traffic down his channel. Ikitau is partnering up with Irae Simone in the centres as the second change to the starting side and the pair will more than likely be in for a busy night.

The last of the three changes to the starting side sees Joe Powell back at scrum half with Ryan Lonergan promoted to the bench.

The Blues haven’t had the best run in recent years but seem to have turned the corner under new coach Leon MacDonald and the week off seems to have come at a good time as they welcome back a number of players. Some of the bigger names returning to the squad have only made the bench which looks dangerous and perhaps a pointer to how the Blues are approaching this game.

They have the quality to take the game in the final 20 minutes with the experience of James Parsons and Patrick Tuipulotu expected to lead the way and Dalton Papalii will bring a level of physicality at the breakdown.

The dangerous Reiko Ioane has been rested under the NZ rugby policy but they still possess a dangerous backline containing Nonu as he makes a push for World Cup selection and you can’t discount Matt Duffy and Caleb Clarke on the wings.


Key match up

Pete Samu v. Akira Ioane

The ball running of Akira Ioane is something the Blues thrive on and it will need a big game from Samu to keep him quiet. Samu has been excellent in recent weeks filling in for the injured Locky McCaffrey but will probably need to bring it to another level in this game.

Irae Simone v. Ma’a Nonu

The Brumbies have mixed things up at 12 this year as they’ve swapped between Simone and Tom Wright. Simone is going to have his hands full as he comes up against the wily Ma’a Nonu who seems to have rolled back the years with his strong running as he pushes for World Cup selection.

Prediction

This game has danger written over it for the Brumbies. A short preparation after a heavy travel week up against a well-rested side is always tricky but if they can fix up the errors that undid them against the Jagaures then they should get the job done. The Blues bench has far more experience than the Brumbies so the Brumbies will need to have a sizeable advantage by the 60 minute mark if they are to win this one and keep them in the finals hunt. Brumbies by 4..


TEAMS

BRUMBIES

1 James Slipper
2 Folau Fainga’a
3 Allan Alaalatoa
4 Rory Arnold
5 Sam Carter
6 Jahrome Brown
7 Tom Cusack
8 Pete Samu
9 Joe Powell
10 Christian Lealiifano
11 Toni Pulu
12 Irae Simone
13 Len Ikitau
14 Henry Speight
15 Tom Banks

Replacements
16 Connal McInereny
17 Scott Sio
18 Leslie Leulua’ialii-Makin
19 Darcy Swain
20 Murray Douglas
21 Ryan Lonergan
22 Tom Wright
23 Andy Muirhead

Blues

1 Alex Hodgman
2 Leni Apiasi
3 Ofa Tuungafasi
4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti
5 Josh Goodhue
6 Tom Robinson
7 Blake Gibson
8 Akira Ioane
9 Sam Nock
10 Otere Black
11 Caleb Clarke
12 Ma’a Nonu
13 TJ Faiane
14 Matt Duffy
15 Melani Nanai

Replacements
16 James Parsons
17 Karl Tu’inukuafe
18 Marcel Renata
19 Patrick Tuipulotu
20 Dalton Papalii
21 Augustine Pulu
22 Harry Plummer
23 Levi Aumua

MATCH DEETS

Kick off: 7:45pm AEST
GIO Stadium
Saturday 4 May
Referee: Damon Murphy
AR1: Ben O’Keeffe
AR2: Angus Gardner
TMO: Ian Smith

ACT Brumbies
@steve_l15

Canberra born and bred Rugby fan brought up on Canberra Kookaburra and ACT Brumbies Rugby.

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