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

Preview: Brumbies v. Highlanders

Preview: Brumbies v. Highlanders

The Brumbies will be looking to continue their good start to the season when they welcome to Highlanders to Canberra on Saturday night.

This match sees the Brumbies take on international opposition for the first time after wins against the Queensland Reds and Melbourne Rebels to open the season and is a chance for the home side to edge closer to their record winning streak of 13 wins at home that stretches back to a run of games from 1996-98.

This will be the first time the Highlanders have played in Canberra for three years and will be a chance for the Brumbies to snap a four-match losing streak against the Clan.

The Brumbies have made three changes to this week’s starting side, all in the forwards, with one injury enforced change with Tom Cusack out with the effects of concussion and will be replaced by Will Miller showing the depth of the backrow stocks. Other changes in the pack sees James Slipper get his first start in the front row and has swapped his bench spot with Scott Sio but the Brumbies won’t lose too much there.

After missing last week’s game with a shoulder injury, Darcy Swain comes straight back into the starting side and will team up with Murray Douglas in the second row with Cadeyrn Neville moving back to the bench.

The backline is unchanged for the third week in a row as the new look backline starts to click with the likes of Solomone Kata not looking out of place after his transition from rugby league.

The good form of Noah Lolesio will give him plenty of confidence and without a recognised backup on the bench, he will have to play for the full 80 minutes against a Highlanders side looking to hit back after being mauled by the Sharks last week in Dunedin.

The Highlanders have had a late start to the season with the dreaded first round bye not helping them gain any momentum heading into the 2020 season and they too have made three changes for this match. There is the added issue of restricted minutes that has been a talking point among the New Zealand super rugby coaching ranks.

Shannon Frizell comes into the starting side at blindside, Sio Tomkinson onto the wing and Jesse Parete in for the injured Paripari Parkinson.

Much has been made of the inside backs pairing of Mitch Hunt at 10 and Josh Ioane at 12 with suggestions Ioane should be at 10 but coach Aaron Mauger has shown faith in the former Crusader.

You can’t discount a team with Aaron Smith in it and he will be doing his best to make sure he can control the game as best he can without actually being the ref but he will have to be more than a one man show to get his side over the line and get their season up and running.


Key match up

Rob Valetini v Shannon Frizell

Both Valetini and Frizell missed out on heading to the World Cup and will be looking to get back in their national team in 2020. Valetini has been solid so far in 2020 and if he can stay out of team rehab he’ll surely be in the mind of Dave Rennie. Frizell gets his first start of the season so it will be interesting to see how he settles in.

Prediction

The Brumbies are slowly building with two wins already but if they can put an 80-minute performance together they should be too much for the Highlanders.
Brumbies by 9.


TEAMS

BRUMBIES

1 James Slipper
2 Folau Fainga’a
3 Allan Alaalatoa
4 Darcy Swain
5 Murray Douglas
6 Rob Valetini
7 Will Miller
8 Pete Samu
9 Joe Powell
10 Noah Lolesio
11 Tom Wright
12 Irae Simone
13 Tevita Kuridrani
14 Solomone Kata
15 Tom Banks

Replacements
16 Connal McInerney
17 Scott Sio
18 Tom Ross
19 Cadeyrn Neville
20 Lachlan McCaffrey
21 Ryan Lonergan
22 Len Ikitau
23 Andy Muirhead

HIGHLANDERS

1 Ayden Johnstone
2 Liam Coltman
3 Siate Tokolahi
4 Jesse Parete
5 Josh Dixon
6 Shannon Frizell
7 James Lentjes
8 Marino Mikaele Tu’u
9 Aaron Smith
10 Mitch Hunt
11 Jona Nareki
12 Josh Ioane
13 Ron Thompson
14 Sio Tomkinson
15 Josh McKay

Replacements
16 Ash Dixon
17 Daniel Lienert-Brown
18 Conan O’Donnell
19 Jack Whetton
20 Dillon Hunt
21 Kayne Hamington
22 Michael Collins
23 Teariki Ben-Nicholas

MATCH DEETS

Kick off: 7:15pm AEDT Sat 15 February
Referee: Nic Berry
AR1: AJ Jacobs
AR2: Damon Murphy
TMO: Ian Smith

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    I think the home ground may be enough to take this for the Brumbies. I’m not sure they are clicking that well yet but certainly more than the Highlanders who just seem so disjointed this year. I think it’ll be closer with perhaps a penalty in it

  • I think this might be a hard call, and home field advantage for the win. The Highlanders looked rough last week, but how much of that was first match rust and how much them being genuinely bad?

    I think they might bounce back harder than we expect, but the Ponies at home are a hard prospect still.

  • Brumby Runner

    Agree, a lot will depend on how well Smith plays. He was very much below par last week, but expected to be sharper tonight.

ACT Brumbies
@steve_l15

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

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