Friday night at AAMI Park: can the Melbourne Rebels go 3 from 3 for the first time in their history or will the wounded ACT Brumbies hit back with a much-needed win?
As we enter round 4 (technically round 3 for the Aussies and Kiwis) of the Super Rugby competition both the Rebels and the Brumbies have faced off against the Sunwolves and the Reds, with the boys from Melbourne victorious in both their encounters and the Brumbies hurting after a loss to the Queenslanders.
Isi Naisarani finds the try line against the Reds in round 3
As the cliché goes, it’s still early days but it is safe to say the Rebels have so far shown they are serious contenders to the Australian conference, despite a few early wobbles while the Brumbies have struggled early on, even though many have tipped them to top the conference. Rebels are 2 from 2, the Brumbies 1 from 2.
What The Coaches Said
Dave Wessels (Rebels Head Coach): “I think the big key for us is to throw some punches of our own. We’ve got some firepower in our team and we need to come out with the mindset that we want to attack games. It’s a subtle difference between playing to win and playing not to lose. We want to be a team that plays to win so we’re probably talking more about ourselves than about the opposition. We’re just focused on developing our own game”.
Dan McKellar (Brumbies Head Coach): “I just want him [Scott Sio] to do the basics really well there and obviously it starts with the scrum doesn’t it. We were really disappointed with our scrummage against the Reds and it wasn’t at our standard and understand that we need to be better. Robbie Abel has got a rib injury, but otherwise I had planned to give Folau [Fainga’a] an opportunity at some point in time over the next couple of weeks so that works nicely there. Obviously, it’s disappointing for Robbie but he shouldn’t be out too long and Faalelei [Sione] has trained well all pre-season. We have given guys an opportunity and now other guys get a chance”.
Amanaki Mafi (Rebels) v Isi Naisarani (Brumbies): 2017 Rebels Players’ Player award winner v 2017 RUPA Medal of Excellence winner. This will be a cracking contest, no doubt about it. What the Brumbies No. 8 lacks in age and experience, he makes up for in enthusiasm and just damn good ball running. Has Amanaki found his match?
Amanaki Mafi will be up against it with Brumbies hard-running Isi Naisarani
Sefa Naivalu (Rebels) v Henry Speight (Brumbies): This is not just a contest between two Fijian flyers, this is a battle for a spot on the Wallabies wing. Who will come out on top?
Should I bother?
It’s up to you, don’t let me tell you what to do. As far as Aussie conference battles go, this should be an interesting one and hopefully not as dour as the Brumbies’ clash with the Reds in the previous round. The Brumbies are a wounded beast and will undoubtedly come out firing, while the Rebels are still finding their feet in many ways and their best is yet to come. Exciting times.
Actually, now I think about it, you should bother.
Young gun Jack Maddocks holds his starting position after a history-making hat-trick against the Sunwolves in round 3
The visitors welcome back Scott Sio, who will be a huge (literally) addition to their front row. Meanwhile, while the Rebels will be without Adam Coleman due to sternum soreness and Geoff Parling to a head knock, they will welcome back to the bench from injury, Richard Hardwick and Marika Koroibete. The Brumbies are having backrow injury woes while the Rebels are light on this week in the second row.
1. Tetera Faulkner, 2. Jordan Uelese, 3. Jermaine Ainsley, 4. Matt Philip, 5. Ross Haylett-Petty, 6. Lopeti Timani, 7. Angus Cottrell, 8. Amanaki Mafi, 9. Will Genia, 10. Jack Debreczeni, 11. Sefa Naivalu, 12. Reece Hodge, 13. Tom English (c), 14. Jack Maddocks, 15. Dane Haylett-Petty
Reserves: 16. Anaru Rangi, 17. Ben Daley, 18. Sam Talakai, 19. Colby Fainga’a, 20. Richard Hardwick, 21. Michael Ruru, 22. Billy Meakes, 23. Marika Koroibete
1. Scott Sio, 2. Josh Mann-Rea, 3. Allan Alaalatoa, 4. Rory Arnold, 5. Sam Carter (C), 6. Lachlan McCaffrey, 7. Lolo Fakaosilea, 8. Isi Naisarani, 9. Joe Powell, 10. Christian Lealiifano, 11. Chance Peni, 12. Kyle Godwin, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 14. Henry Speight, 15. Tom Banks
Reserves: 16. Folau Faingaa, 17. Faalelei Sione, 18. Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, 19. Richie Arnold, 20. Tom Cusack, 21. Matt Lucas, 22. Wharenui Hawera, 23. Andy Muirhead
This could go either way (which is kinda the point of a sporting contest, I suppose). The Brumbies will be keen to make amends for their disappointing performance against the Reds in round 3, while the Rebels will be itching to keep their momentum going. One thing against the Rebels is the 6-day turnaround after an international trip to Japan. With Scott Sio back in the Canberra front row and the injury to Rebels’ captain Adam Coleman the result is harder to pick. If the Brumbies can get their backs to click, they will be dangerous. But, so too for the Rebels backs… oh, the dilemma!
I’m going with the home team: Rebels by a slender 3 points.
Scott Sio makes a welcome return to the Brumbies
Date: Friday 09 March 2018
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne, Australia
Kick-off: 7.45 pm (AEDT)
Referee: Will Houston
Assistants: Graham Cooper & James Leckie
TMO: Ian Smith