Preview: Brumbies v. Waratahs - Green and Gold Rugby
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Preview: Brumbies v. Waratahs

Preview: Brumbies v. Waratahs

After a day of uncertainty, the Brumbies and Waratahs will face off in Canberra on Sunday afternoon.

The two sides are at opposite ends of the form scale with the Brumbies coming off a big win over the Sunwolves in Wollongong, while the Waratahs second half capitulation against the Chiefs saw them dusted by 37 points that left Rob Penney unimpressed with that effort.

The Brumbies have won three in a row against the Waratahs and six of the last seven and would be favourites to continue that streak based on 2020 form. The Brumbies have made a few changes to their starting side for this match as they look to continue their two-match winning streak before uncertainty hits the competition in the coming weeks.

Newly re-signed prop James Slipper takes over at loosehead prop from Scott Sio who suffered a hand injury in last week’s Sunwolves game. The other injury enforced change sees the reliable Andy Muirhead come in for the unlucky Toni Pulu who suffered a shoulder injury last week.

Joe Powell comes in for Ryan Lonergan at scrum half who was very impressive in his starting debut last week with a try and five conversions.

For the Waratahs, Rob Penney has resisted mass changes in the wake of the Chiefs loss. Rob Simmons returns from an ankle injury and resumes the captaincy from Kurtley Beale. Mark Nawaqanitawase is back on the left wing after a back injury in the win over the Lions two weeks ago.

**UPDATE** The Waratahs have made two changes to their bench with Tom Robertson and Robbie Abel ruled out that sees Rory O’Connor and Andrew Taula taking their places.

Key match ups

Will Miller v. Michael Hooper

Will Miller saw the top spot at the Waratahs blocked by Hooper so headed down the Hume to Canberra for a chance of more game time. His form in the opening rounds has been very impressive and shown what he is capable of with a number of pilfers and general work around the breakdown.

This week he’s up against Hooper who seems to have stepped up his game after releasing the captaincy shackles and consistently one of the Waratahs best week after week, despite their low ladder position.

Noah Lolesio v. Will Harrison

The younger brigade are now starting to stake the claim for a spot in the Wallabies in the coming years with Lolesio and Harrison in the mix to push Matt Toomua and co. for the 10 jersey. These two know each other’s game very well after pairing up as the 10 and 12 for the majority of U20’s campaign in Argentina.

Lolesio has been solid in 2020 so far and didn’t let the loss against the Highlanders get him down as he came out the next week to lead the Brumbies to a win over the Chiefs. Behind a solid forward pack, he has looked good and his combination with Irae Simone is starting to look good.

On the other hand, Harrison has had a mixed bag to start the season but to his credit has never dropped his head and Rob Penney obviously sees something brewing as he has resisted throwing him to the wolves and hurting his confidence.

Tom Banks v. Kurtley Beale

As a main member of the #Justice4Banks club, I’d say Tom Banks was one of the unluckiest to miss World Cup selection but his form in 2020 would have him firmly on the radar of Dave Rennie. His kicking from hand following penalties gives the Brumbies the launchpad for driving mauls and combined with his open play running is proving hard to ignore for a permanent role at fullback as he runs out for his 50th Super Rugby cap.

Kurtley Beale equals the Waratahs record with 148 caps this week and will be looking to bounce back after a disappointing showing against the Chiefs. The Brumbies will need to keep him in check because if he finds open space, he can punish any lazy defending.


Based on the season so far, the Waratahs will need an almighty stroke of luck for them to upset the Brumbies. With the uncertainty surrounding the competition after this week, the Brumbies will be up for a big game against their big brother and end ‘Waratah Week’ with a big win.
Brumbies by 12.



1 James Slipper
2 Connal McInerney
3 Allan Alaalatoa
4 Murray Douglas
5 Cadeyrn Neville
6 Rob Valetini
7 Will Miller
8 Pete Samu
9 Joe Powell
10 Noah Lolesio
11 Andy Muirhead
12 Irae Simone
13 Tevita Kuridrani
14 Solomone Kata
15 Tom Banks

16 Lachlan Lonergan
17 Harry Lloyd
18 Tom Ross
19 Darcy Swain
20 Tom Cusack
21 Ryan Lonergan
22 Bayley Kuenzle
23 Tom Wright


1 Angus Bell
2 Damien Fitzpatrick
3 Harry Johnson-Holmes
4 Tom Staniforth
5 Rob Simmons
6 Lachlan Swinton
7 Michael Hooper
8 Jack Dempsey
9 Mitch Short
10 Will Harrison
11 Mark Nawaqanitawase
12 Karmichael Hunt
13 Alex Newsome
14 Jack Maddocks
15 Kurtley Beale

16 Andrew Taula
17 Rory O’Connor
18 Tetera Faulkner
19 Jed Holloway
20 Patrick Tafa
21 Michael McDonald
22 Lalakai Fekitoa
23 James Ramm


Kick off: Sunday 15 March, GIO Stadium 4:05pm AEDT
Referee: Rasta Rasivenghe
AR1: Mike Fraser
AR2: Brendon Pickerill
TMO: James Leckie

  • I appreciate it’s a derby game, but 12 seems generous to the Tahs.

    I’ve been thinking dark thoughts about Harrison, but I don’t think they’re really fair. He’s suffering behind a pack that is largely not producing decent ball and he looks poor for it. But which half backs don’t? I think there’s probably a decent 10 in there, it’s just hard to see through the rubbish the rest of the team produce most of the time.

    • I thought a repeat of the 1997 score of 56-9 was probably stretching it a bit too far…

      • Crescent

        You’re right. Giving the Tahs 9 is pretty generous.

    • AllyOz

      The Tahs will need an almighty turn around in form to get close you’d think. I feel sorry for Harrison, stick him behind the Reds pack or in the structure that the Brumbies have developed and honed to precision now and we might be saying completely different things about him.

      • Yes, I know you can’t just pick players up and parachute them like that, but I think Harrison in a different environment might look much more like a star than he does right now.

        Mind you, if he’d had a better development programme over the last 3? years at the Tahs he might too…

    • Anonymous bloke

      As a brumbies supporter I still am not confident going into games we should win comfortably on paper. Particularly when others are predicting a spanking.

      • I can understand that. I’m not a Brumbies supporter, but over the Tahs I’m on your side.

        Fingers crossed it turns out as you hope, not as you fear!

      • Seb V

        Agreed, especially from the Tahs, who have the players to produce something decent.

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      I think 12 is actually a bit light. I know they’ll step up for this but I’m not sure that’ll help much as the Brumbies will also step up and they’ve got more talent to do that.
      I like Harrison, I think that playing as well as he does behind a poor pack and with Beale sticking his nose in and causing issues every few minutes he’s played well. I think if he was in a decent team he’d look really good.

  • Hoss

    As only the Tah’s can do, they will turn it on today, play the kind of sublime, aggressive, clever rugby that lulls you back into believing the seasons alive. On that basis they will win today by 8, before losing to Sunwolves later this year by 36.

    • Keith Butler

      That’s good but they’re playing tomorrow.

      • Hoss

        My point exactly.

        • Keith Butler


    • laurence king

      And Beale to have a blinder (make a dominant tackle, not run sideways once and not drop any balls -no pun intended)

      • Hoss

        Are you allowed to drink early in the Apple Isle ?????

  • Keith Butler

    Difficult to see past the Brumbies for this one but you never know. Too much power upfront against an under performing pack and shading it in the backs should make for a comfortable win. And to my mate Hoss, I’m prepared to dip my short arms into my long pockets with a little side bet of your favourite tipple.

  • Crescent

    Brumbies by plenty. At home, against a squad they love to beat who are stupidly vulnerable and have showed no willingness or capacity to fix the glaring issue at the breakdown. Brumbies have a well settled team with the right mercenary attitude to not take any team lightly.

    Tahs best chance in this fixture is to contract Covid-19. Sadly, Beale would fail to catch that too.

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      Ouch. But probably true

    • laurence king

      Lol, well say what you think then. Truth to tell, very difficult to contradict.

      • Crescent

        Sad fact is that I am a long term Tahs supporter. I guess the brutal truth as I see it is my coping mechanism.

        Truth be told, Penney is on a hiding to nothing with the squad he inherited. But the second half capitulation against the Chiefs may have sent me over the edge. Their weaknesses and obvious and apparent – I still expect them to work on mitigating their exposure.

        • laurence king

          The writing was on the wall from the beginning of last year that trouble was coming. Well I’m hoping Penney gets some support in the changes to be made over the next couple of seasons

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Fair call Steve although I’m expecting a bigger margin as while the Tahs will step up, so will the Brumbies. I’m looking forward to the battle in the centres as Hunt seems to be trying to do too much but can get across the line well. The 7 battle will be interesting but as Hooper doesn’t play that typical 7 role it may be a non event. I’m thinking the 6&8 battle could be decisive in this match

  • Brisneyland Local

    Well boysies and girlsies. I am looking forward to this one. It is great not having a dog in the fight. I watched the chiefs vs Canes game last noght and was really impressed by that game. But hey shouldnt we be there was 10 AB’s on on the field so the standard had to be high.
    For this game hard to tell. Hoss’s theory holds a lot of weight. Whenever we predict a spanking the tarts come out and play like they should be able to. But to be honest I see that Pony pack and I see the light weight tarts pack and I see a monstering coming on. Watching Hooper get rag dolled last week was tantamount to that. A great player, more motor than anyone, but when the Cheifs TJ Perenara smashed Hooper I was concerned that someone who weighs about as much as my eldest daughter unload hooper it is a worrying sign.
    My Pred. Ponies by 28

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      Was the Chiefs Aaron Cruden mate. Perenara is a Cane

      • Brisneyland Local

        I stand corrected. God all those all blacks look alike to me! ;-)

  • Reds Revival

    I think the unluckiest guy on the paddock has to be Alex Newsome. He has to go from being virtually invisible this season, to then step up and try and contain the K Train. Unfortunately, I think that Newsome will be mere speed bump for Kurindrani. Better prepare the Radox bath for after the game Alex, I think you’re going to need it.

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