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

Preview: Brumbies v. Rebels

Preview: Brumbies v. Rebels

The Brumbies welcome the Melbourne Rebels to Canberra for round two of Super Rugby with both sides at opposite ends of the scale after their games in round one. The Brumbies came from behind to beat the Reds but the Rebels got bitten by the Sunwolves in Japan and will need a strong game to reverse that result.

These two sides played in a trial just two weeks ago with the Brumbies eventually coming away with a big win but Brumbies coach Dan McKellar knows that means little after beating them in the pre-season three seasons running only to come up short in Super Rugby and have lost the last four on the trot.

The Brumbies have been able to enjoy a relatively settled side this week and have only had to make one change to their starting side with lock Darcy Swain ruled out with a minor shoulder problem that should only see him miss one week. Cadeyrn Neville, a former Rebels player himself, moves up from the bench and taking Neville’s place on the bench is the 205cm tall Nick Frost who has spent time in the Crusaders academy program before being lured back to Australia.

On the other hand, Dave Wessels has made multiple changes to the side that lost to the Sunwolves including new starting props and a change at 7. Matt Gibbon and Ruan Smith come into the front row and Michael Wells takes the 7 jersey from Rob Leota who moves back to the bench.

There is some stability in the backline with no changes to the starting side with the big changes on the bench with Wessels going with a 6/2 bench split with Ryan Louwrens and Campbell Magnay the backs substitutions. Rebels fans will be hoping everyone stays fit to avoid players playing out of position with Andrew Deegan left out of the 23 altogether. Luke Jones also misses out with back soreness with South African Gideon Koelenberg in line for a debut.

The Rebels haven’t had much time to dwell on last weeks game with a six-day turnaround and the Sunwolves wouldn’t have done the Brumbies any favours by giving them a wake-up call.

The halves combination of Frank Lomani and Matt Toomua will need to be getting front foot ball and catch the Brumbies defence to see the likes of Marika Koroibete in open space and he can cause all sorts of problems if given just the slightest inch of space. There is a chance of him matching up against Solomone Kata and that would be one worth watching after Kata’s solid debut last week.

Key match ups

Front Row

The Brumbies starting front row are all Wallaby capped and can even call on James Slipper to finish off games. Last week they didn’t have much fun at scrum time with the Reds able to gain ascendency and even nab a few penalties that the Brumbies would have hated. The Rebels have gone with two new props this week and this looks like an area Dave Wessels will target.

Noah Lolesio v. Matt Toomua

Noah Lolesio had a mixed game but last week but will put that behind him and will have some confidence after the Brumbies win and his pass to Tevita Kuridrani to set up Tom Wright’s try was a sign of what he can produce.

This week he comes up against the experienced Matt Toomua who has been earmarked as the next Wallabies flyhalf after the departure of a number of experienced flyhalves in Christian Lealiifano and Bernard Foley. With a bunch of talented rookies across the Australian teams, it will give new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie something to consider.


The Brumbies didn’t have it all their own way last week with their set piece under pressure from the Reds but still found a way to win which will give them plenty of confidence. The Rebels will be hoping they got their worst game of the season out of the way early but will need to step up their game to be in contention.
Brumbies by 8.



1 Scott Sio
2 Folau Fainga’a
3 Allan Alaalatoa
4 Murray Douglas
5 Cadeyrn Neville
6 Rob Valetini
7 Tom Cusack
8 Pete Samu
9 Joe Powell
10 Noah Lolesio
11 Tom Wright
12 Irae Simone
13 Tevita Kuridrani
14 Solomone Kata
15 Tom Banks

16 Connal McInerney
17 Harry Lloyd
18 James Slipper
19 Nick Frost
20 Will Miller
21 Ryan Lonergan
22 Bayley Kuenzle
23 Andy Muirhead


1 Matt Gibbon
2 Anaru Rangi
3 Ruan Smith
4 Ross Haylett-Petty
5 Matt Philip
6 Angus Cottrell
7 Michael Wells
8 Isi Naisarani
9 Frank Lomani
10 Matt Toomua
11 Andrew Kellaway
12 Billy Meakes
13 Reece Hodge
14 Marika Koribete
15 Dane Haylett-Petty

16 Steve Misa
17 Cameron Orr
18 Jermaine Ainsley
19 Gideon Koelenberg
20 Rob Leota
21 Richard Hardwick
22 Ryan Louwrens
23 Campbell Magnay


Kick off: 7:15pm AEDT Friday 7 February
Referee: Nic Berry
AR1: Damon Murphy
AR2: Jordan Way
TMO: Ian Smith

  • Keith Butler

    I fear that the Rebels are going to be on the receiving end of a right good rogering tomorrow night but I will be tuning in nonetheless. Point difference could be more than 20 I reckon.

    • Brumby Runner

      If both teams play to last wek’s form, then you may be right KB, but I’m not sure that will happen.

      Good to see NBerry in charge. Best of the Aussie refs.

    • idiot savant

      If the Rebels get a hiding, the pressure on Wessells is going to build. Could this be his last season? I notice Stiles has only signed in Japan for one more year…… The Rebs have to start recruiting/developing better forwards or they won’t improve.

      • Keith Butler

        The Rebels have always recruited arse about face. Backs first and then forwards focusing on the back row rather than the front five. Amazing how many they’ve let go over the years. Jones, Pyle, Neville, Alo-Emile and of course Sean McMahon (who should have been captain). The list goes on. Chickens coming home to roost this season and Wessels may well be gone.

  • Nutta

    It’s my team vs my other team. So I know my team will win at least. However:
    * Good to see Wells get a crack. He’s a good, gutsy un-glamorous player who won’t give an inch and makes for a good Scum backrow.
    * Rangi was my favourite Aus2 last year. He will be up for it.
    * Meakes vs Simone should be very interesting
    * Very interested in seeing Nick Frost get some time. I’ve heard he is quality. We will see.
    * With that backline, if the Scum can get some decent ball they would be bloody dangerous. The question will be if they can get ball. Steve is right that the Donkeys scrum has a point to prove and any backrow with Pete Samu in it is not going to give you peace at the breakdown.

    So I agree with KB that it will be 20pts to the Donkeys because I just don’t see the Scum getting quality ball.

    • Keith Butler

      For a moment there Nutta I thought you’d misspelled scrum but had a quick double take – nah! Hope it’s an entertaining game.

      • Nutta

        I often have to remind myself that apparently there are other elements to the game(?!?!?) and that allegedly those numbered 9 and above are not just ‘special friends’ we allow time away from the padded rooms to wander around the pitch in the fresh air during game time.

        • Keith Butler

          Back in the day we called them the “girlies”. Props would get thrown out of the front row for scoring a try or passing. Similarly the wings would get the union boot if they came off the pitch with a speck of mud on them.

        • Nutta

          I welcome a winger who is getting dirty. It’s like watching a baby eat bacon for the first time. The creeping look of discovered-delight across their little cherub faces is heartwarming.

          I also always believed in the 3rd Grade Rule – you kick it, you go get it back, or you owe beers to the first of our guys who does get it back. It both discourages kicking outright whilst also encourages motivated kick-chase by EVERYONE.

  • Jason

    I never had and probably never will buy into this argument that Toomua is a genuine flyhalf. You can probably get away with him at 10 for Super Rugby but he’d be behind even the sedate Bryce Hegarty (who I actually think isn’t an awful option for Wallabies 10, especially if none of the prospects look like working out).

    Rebs should have a lot more starch in their forward pack, with Rangi between Matt Gibbon and Ruan Smith they should sure up their scrum but I still expect the Brumbies should dominate the set piece.

    Honestly, Meeks should be dropped or moved to the bench to make way for Degan to start at 10 and Toomua to play his more traditional 12 role. Hodge is just a puzzle piece at this point, is he a winger, a 12 or a 13, he’s a talented player but he just doesn’t appear to have a position.

    I expect the Brumbies to pick up a bonus point win.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      Toomua has played very well for the Brumbies and Leicester at 10 and has done okay at 10 for the Wallabies.

      • Jason

        Nah, he’s not a 10, he’s fine to cover 10, but he’s a makeshift 10, same as Beale, O’Connor, and Stewart for example. He goes okay, but that’s not his position.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          Yet he’s played most of his professional rugby at 10 and says 10 is the position he feels most comfortable playing.

        • idiot savant

          You would think Toomua would look more comfortable at 10 then. Its strange because he has the skill set – crisp passer, good out of hand kicker, can straighten the attack – yet somehow he hasn’t graduated beyond solid. Maybe its decision making?

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I just think that’s the style of 10 he is. He’s never going to be that flashy playmaker we want.

          He wasn’t great last night though.

        • idiot savant

          Stewart is a very good 10, just not in Jim McKay’s eyes.

        • Mica

          He’s a better 10 than Beale and JOC. Stewart is still young and looks like a NH 10.

    • Mica

      He’s a fullback :)

  • Tim

    If you went went off current form Brumbies will smash them. But Australian rugby isn’t that reliable. Will come down to who can kick for better field position. Honestly feel bad for that Deegen fella he came on and played pretty well and is an actual fly half. They should start him drop Kellaway and push Reece to the wing and have Billy and Toomua as bash brothers. But hey who knows Toomua might smash it this week!

  • Patrick

    That is some record to win in pre season and lose in the actual season three times in a row!

    But yes we’re rooted this time.

  • Steve

    Hodge at 13 could potentially be a liability for the Rebs, but I honestly don’t know what my 10/12/13 combo would look like if I were Wessels so who am I to judge.
    On a head-to-head basis they look pretty even overall, but Brumbies have been combining to equal more than the sum of their parts and the Rebels much less so far.

    Famous last words but I can’t see the Rebels winning this one, they’ve started the season as they finished last and have just come off a beating in Japan.

    • Mica

      Nice insight Steve – I was thinking that they looked pretty even too, but I think you are right in saying that the Brumbies will be more cohesive as a team. As much as I like the Brumbies, I’d really like to see the Rebels fire tonight (for the sake of Aus rugby).

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