Rebels v. Reds Preview - Green and Gold Rugby

Rebels v. Reds Preview

Rebels v. Reds Preview

Ah, this takes me back. An impressionable teenager in a movie theatre in outback Queensland. The rebellious youngster in an epic battle against the bigger, stronger opponent. Sitting on the edge of my seat as the movie climaxes and they finally face each other.

“Did the Waratahs tell you what happened to your father?”

“They told me you killed my father”

“No, I am your father.”


But seriously. Both teams had a bad day last time out. The Reds decided not to play the first half in Wellington while the Rebels got smacked around the SFS for 80 minutes.

Morty can't believe who Saffy ran over

While the Reds’ week only got better from there, the Rebels went from bad to worse. To start, two of the boys broke curfew and spent the night experiencing the seedier side of Sydney and got themselves suspended. Then workhorse openside flanker Jarrod Saffy tweaked his groin in a training mishap on Wednesday. To top it off, playmaker James Hilgendorf has struggled with a shoulder injury all week and was cleared to play only today.
In contrast the Reds have welcomed back their first choice props in Ben Daley and James Slipper, and Energizer Bunny Digby Ioane, from injury. Ewen McKenzie has rotated his best squad into the starting line-up with Rob Simmons, Radike Samo and Saia and Anthony Faingaa all returning. And they’re celebrating the news that Daley has put off a law degree at Oxford to re-sign for two years.

The Reds would already have been strong favourites for this game. But now they’re really, really strong favourites.

The Rebels’ settled forward pack has lost its key player, Jarrod Saffy. He’s played his socks off all season and the team will feel his loss. His replacement Hoani MacDonald will bring a decent set of skills to the game but is a completely different style of player.

The Reds are running out their best forward pack. Higginbotham and Samo have swapped positions but both are at home in 6 and 8. Beau Robinson is still playing out of his skin at openside. In the second row Simmons is back, sending old stager Van Humphries to play club rugby. Locking partner James Horwill’s season goes from strength to strength.

The Rebels backline has had little penetration all season, apart from a few games in which Danny Cipriani shone. His form collapse saw him dropped from the run on side and his reported trip to the Ivy last Saturday night sees him leave the squad altogether. Nick Phipps at scrum-half has been the Rebels’ find of the season. His contest with the Reds’ Will Genia may be the highlight of this game. Ex-Red Richard Kingi must think he’s cursed after sitting behind Will Genia for a couple of years then moving to the Rebels to find Phipps blocking his path.

Stirling Mortlock, now at inside centre, hasn’t been able to find the explosive pace that made him one of the best centres in the world for many years. His move into 12 hasn’t been entirely successful but he fills a spot that coach Rod Macqueen can’t seem to find a reliable occupant for. A backline with Huxley, Gerrard and Mortlock in it should be doing better. Maybe it’s just a balance thing they need to get right. Maybe they just aren’t fast enough for the pace of the game this year.

The Reds’ backline looks very settled. Anthony Faingaa is back at 13 after a 50-minute rest last week. Will Chambers steps down to the bench and is joined by Dom Shipperley who, after a solid debut last week, makes way for Digby Ioane. I know I said “very settled” and then announced two changes, but to me the presence of Faingaa and Ioane makes the backline just seem right. Ben Lucas and Mike Harris give Quade Cooper the room to do his thing, Faingaa adds defensive starch, and Ioane and Luke Morahan bring power, speed and finishing to the edges. Will Genia adds speed at the breakdown, speed on his feet and a near-psychic link with Cooper.

Have I got my Reds glasses on? This week I don’t think so. The Reds should win!

My prediction: Reds by 15+.

Roll the credits and the fanfare: Dum dum dum DUM di dum DUM di dum….


Rebels: 1. Greg Somerville, 2. Ged Robinson, 3. Laurie Weeks, 4. Alister Campbell, 5. Hugh Pyle, 6. Hoani MacDonald, 7. Michael Lipman, 8. Gareth Delve, 9. Nick Phipps, 10. James Hilgendorf, 11. Peter Betham, 12. Stirling Mortlock, 13. Mark Gerrard, 14. Lachlan Mitchell, 15. Julian Huxley. Reserves: 16. Heath Tessman, 17. Nic Henderson, 18. Adam Byrnes, 19. Tim Davidson, 20. Sam Cordingley, 21. Cooper Vuna, 22. Afusipa Taumoepeau.

Reds: 1. Ben Daley, 2. Saia Faingaa, 3. James Slipper, 4. Rob Simmons, 5. James Horwill, 6. Scott Higginbotham, 7. Beau Robinson, 8. Radike Samo, 9. Will Genia, 10. Quade Cooper, 11. Digby Ioane, 12. Michael Harris, 13. Anthony Faingaa, 14. Luke Morahan, 15. Ben Lucas. Reserves: 16. James Hanson, 17. Greg Holmes, 18. Adam Wallace-Harrison, 19. Leroy Houston, 20. Jake Schatz, 21. Will Chambers, 22. Dom Shipperley

Referee: Bryce Lawrence (NZ)

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  • eMack.

    I’m hoping its 15+, I’ve got the Genia-Quade combo on my fantasy side. Lets go Reds!!

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  • Reds4thewin

    I hope the Reds keep this side for the Blues next week, that will be huge. As for all our friends south of the Tweed crowing that they will win the draw & top the Aussie conference- think again.

    You have a Firce outfit that will win this weekend, then you have a tour of SA where on form you’d have to tip the Sharks & resurgent Bulls. It’ll all be over for the Tahs this weekend- they just won’t know it yet.

    • Westo

      I cannot deny that I would like to see another Australian team in the finals and realistically it will only be the Tahs. However I agree with your sentiment, there is not a chance that they will top the Oz conference, unless the Reds implode tonight which may signal there downfall. The chances of that slim and nil.

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  • As an eternal optimist for the Rebels I struggle to tip them, or even tip the Reds by less than 20.

    Link is coming home, bring Digby home, and they are going to FIRE!

    Rebels defence looks ok at best with this line up, but even with Saffy they bled points in Syd last week.

    Gareth Delve is a monster in both attack and defence, but has been pinged numerous times for Offside – a bit too eager, hopefully he can lead that defensive line from just behind the offside line.

    Hoping for a close one, but with Link and Diggers on the opposition side, I cant be too sad at a loss.


    • Patrick

      I know how you feel!

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  • redbull

    Reds will not take this game lightly. They go there with their best starting XV. I reckon they feel the need to make a statement and maybe make sure all players are on the same page for next weekend against the Blues.

  • roland

    Outocme was pretty much as expected. Why am I no absolutely stoked with 5 log point? I dont know. Just still bitter about last week. I think if the reds can beat the blues next weekend, ill be smiling from ear to ear.

    Did anyone else see how badly the blues player this weekend.

  • Reds Fan 2011

    There was some serious rubbish refereing in that game last night for both sides. Seriously how can a touch jusge not see a bloke try and keep the ball in only for it to land out by half a metre and then bounce back into play. The rebels ‘scored’ later of that I think as well. The ruck was a shambles for both teams with both sides falling over the ruck on the wrong side, coming in from the side and everything else illegal. The reds didn’t get one pentaly for the Rebels holdings on where there could have been easily 5 or 6 through the course of the game.
    The two tries of the Rebels were not tries and how they were allowed in the professional game is absolutely mind boggling. The question of “Is there any reason I can’t award a try” is rubbish and should be abolished!!! It should be try or no try.
    I know people shouldn’t rant on about refs but I have never seen a game where all 4 match officials made amateurs look good. If that was a qtr/semi or grand final of a world cup and you lost in a tight one with that sort of officialing surely you would be entitled to sue!!

  • I try not to say much about referees but could some one tell me the difference between the 2 rebels lineouts pulled down by the reds about the 77 minute. One was penalised one was not.

  • abroad

    reds record 9-2 at moment. how many in wallabies at moment. who bettea kepu / slipper.

  • abroad

    sorry how many reds are wallabies at the moment

  • bill

    Good game for a Reds fan, and not too bad from the mexicans. Shame to see Hilgendorf injured, a good professional. Nice to see Higgenbotham back at 6, maybe he’s just learning 8 but he seems more effective @ 6. Had 2 laugh at Laurie Weeks pretend punches. Thought b4 the game we could have tripped up here but it turned out well.
    At least the 4th game in a row Cooper’s done something that prompted the thought “…Only Quade would do that” the harry houdini of rugby.
    Hilgendorf’s try was odd though, my 1st impression was why is the ref referring it , scores it easily,but on replay it looked held up by Samo in a great effort.


Just another Rugby tragic. Shane "Sully" Sullivan has been in man love with the game since high school in the 70's. He inflicts his passion on family and anyone who will listen. He can't guarantee unbiased opinion but he can tell you the Reds are Awesome! To read non-rugby content head to

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