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

Preview: Rebels v Brumbies

Preview: Rebels v Brumbies

The Melbourne Rebels host the ACT Brumbies at AAMI Park in Round Four of Super Rugby 2019.

It’s early in the season, but both teams are already shaping as finals contenders.  Both the Rebels and Brumbies have enjoyed victory both at home and against Kiwi opposition.  Considering our recent track record against Kiwi sides, that’s not a bad start to the season.  This game is a perfect opportunity to set the pace in the Australian conference.  Who wants it more?


The Rebels sit atop the Australian conference on two wins, with the Brumbies not far behind them.  The teams met in round one, with the Rebels defeating the Brumbies 34-27.  After a badly-timed bye round, the Rebels prevailed in a close match against the Highlanders, winning by five points.  Most pundits believed the Rebels should have won by more, but I’d never write off the Highlanders that easily.

The Brumbies recovered from their round one loss to thump the hapless Waikato Chiefs 54-17, which marked the first time an Australian team put over 50 points on a Kiwi side since….well probably when I last had hair.  A week is a long time in Rugby, as the Brumbies discovered over in Palmerston North, losing to the Hurricanes 43-13.  That loss will hurt the Brumbies, so they will look to make a point at the Stockade.


The Melbourne Rebels have made a number of changes to the starting forward pack.  Matt Gibbon, Robbie Abel, Adam Coleman, and Rob Leota all starting against the Brumbies.  Ross Haylett-Perry comes onto the bench, and Angus Cottrell rotates out of the matchday 23.  It’s a big change in the pack, with an almost new attacking (left) side in the Scrum, and a debutant at loosehead prop.  The Rebels have once again opted for a 6-2 bench split, signalling their intent to take on the Brumbies pack.  The backline remains unchanged.

Adam Coleman – a welcome return to the Rebels starting side

The Brumbies have sprung a few surprises of their own, making five changes to the team belted by the Hurricanes.  Former NRL player Tom Wright gets his first chance at 12, and Henry Speight returns to the wing, relegating Chance Peni to the bench.  In the pack Valentini, Carter, and Cusack move into the starting side.

Rebels (15-1): Dane Haylett-Petty (c), Jack Maddocks, Tom English, Billy Meakes, Marika Koroibete, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Isi Naisarani, Brad Wilkin, Rob Leota, Matt Philip, Adam Coleman, Sam Talakai, Robbie Abel, Matt Gibbon

Reserves: Anaru Rangi, Tetera Faulkner, Jermaine Ainsley, Luke Jones, Ross Haylett-Petty, Richard Hardwick, Michael Ruru, Reece Hodge

Brumbies (15-1): Tom Banks, Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Tom Wright, Andy Muirhead, Christian Lealiifano (c), Joe Powell, Tom Cusack, David Pocock, Rob Valetini, Sam Carter, Rory Arnold, Allan Alaalatoa, Folau Fainga’a, Scott Sio

Reserves: Josh Mann-Rea, James Slipper, Leslie Leuluiaalii-Makin, Murray Douglas, Pete Samu, Ryan Lonergan, Wharenui Hawera, Chance Peni

Player match-ups

Who should we keep an eye on this week?

Front Rows

This is an area the Brumbies must dominate if they want to stamp their authority on the game.  They have an all-wallaby front row combination in Sio, Faainga’a and Alaalatoa, who are used to destroying opposition packs.

The Brumbies pack have been used to destroying scrums for years.

They come against a relatively green combination of Gibbon, Abel, and Talakai.  The Rebels pack did well against the Highlanders, but the Brumbies will be a much bigger challenge.  The Rebels will need to hold the second shunt and maintain the shape, as they won’t be able to out-muscle the Brumbies.  One sniff of front-row dominance and the Brumbies will win Scrum penalties all night long.

DHP vs Banks

The five-star Captain, versus the young gun speedster.  The battle is really over who should be wearing the Wallaby 15 jersey, as opposed to a certain high-flying Waratah player.

Tom Banks switched on the afterburners to score the game first try.

Tom Banks – speed machine

Banks and DHP are worthy contenders for the role; Banks has some blistering speed and a monster boot, where Dane seems the more composed player, especially under the high ball.  Both are gifted fullbacks, but DHP has a slight edge in game management.

A great battle looms.

Back row battle?

A traditional strong point of the Brumbies.  With Pocock, Valetini and Cusack, you would normally pick them to dominate the back row battle.  Pocock was sorely missed in the round one clash, and he will look to assert his dominance at the breakdown.

Rob Leota – home-grown Victorian, keen to get stuck in.

The Brumbies will be challenged by a new Rebels back row combination of Leota, Wilkin, and Nasarini.  Wilkin has been a tireless ruck pest against the Highlanders, and Leota is looking sharp after a long injury lay-off.  For me, Nasarini is the key to winning the back row battle.  Whilst not an attaching machine like Mafi, his defence work is top-notch.  After a few games finding his feet, I feel he about to unleash his attack prowess, hopefully with a try.

Fearless prediction

This is the perfect contest of strengths; a battle of a strong forwards pack (Brumbies), versus a star-studded backline (Rebels).

The Brumbies will be out for revenge against their southern cousins, but I think they will be sorely disappointed.

While the Brumbies pack is formidable, I rate the Revels backline to get the job done.  The 6-2 Rebels bench, including players such as Richard Hardwick and Luke Jones, has the depth to more than match the Brumbies pack.

Rebels by 5.


I always love writing a Rebels v Brumbies preview because I have an excellent reason to post this clip.  The first ever Rebels win in Super Rugby, against the Ponies.  Enjoy.



  • Mr Wobbly

    Thanks for the preview. Nervously looking forward to this one.

  • Brumby Runner

    Good write up OzT. Can’t pick how this will turn out. Form does say the Rebels perhaps comfortably. But much will depend on the Brumbies’ execution of their “no fear” game plan.

    Referee is A J Jacobs. Not a lot of experience there and could be decisive in the way he handles the scrums.

    • Keith Butler

      I think form is out of the window on this one BR. Rebs could be on the receiving end after last weeks effort by the Brumbies. If you get on top up front and the ref starts handing out penalties you can see what’s going to happen. Kicks to corners and try stopping the Brumbies excellent line out drive. Could be a hard day at the office. If the Rebs can get parity and not implode in the last 20 mins could be a different ballgame. My heart says Rebs but my head says Brumbies.

  • Brisneyland Local

    Oz, thanks for the preview. Am so excited about this match. Beer ready, food ready. Cant wait.

  • Brendan Hume

    As has been said all year – the Rebels will need to really aim up in the tight 5. Rangi has been excellent so far, so Robbie Abel will have to rise to the challenge presented by Faainga who has also been a star for his team.

    Expect some traffic through the 10 channel of the Rebs. If Quade and his back row can stifle the Brumbies attack here, and if the forwards can hold out the Brumbies scrum dominance and lineout drive the Rebels will be a chance. If not, it might be a tough one. Brumbies by 9 for me, but I’ll be cheering on the men from Melbourne.

  • Brumby Runner

    No mention yet of the impact Quade is likely to have on the game. Wouldn’t be far from the truth to say that so far in 2019, he has been the most influential player on the park. If he gets the Rebels’ backline humming again, the score could be a blowout.

    Whatever happens, I expect the better of Quade and Christian will be the front runner for the Wallaby No 10 spot at this time.

  • GoMelbRebels

    Thanks Timmy. The Rebels need this win heading into the SA tour to build confidence (can we get our first win in the republic?). I just can’t pick this game, based on the first few rounds for both teams. Obviously want the Rebs to win, but I am a tad nervous (more so than round 1).

  • Ben Fox

    Who is the ref?

ACT Brumbies

Just another ageing old Prop who's wandered into one too many scrums...

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