Preview: Rebels v Waratahs - Green and Gold Rugby
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Preview: Rebels v Waratahs

Preview: Rebels v Waratahs

The resumption of Super Rugby on Friday brings with it a top of the (Australian) table clash between the Rebels and Waratahs.

The Waratahs are only one point ahead of the Rebels but sit in third spot of the overall table by virtue of the fact they are on top of the conference compared to the Rebels in eighth spot.

Importance of match

Given the significance of the match this in my opinion is the most important match in Melbourne Rebels history. The only other match that could rival it, in the lead up to the match, is the Rebels’ first game also against the Waratahs at AAMI Park. Hopefully for the Rebels, the result for this match is considerably different to the 43 – nil win by the Waratahs that night.

Even if the Rebels win this game it will not guarantee them top spot on the Australian conference as the Waratahs final two matches at home against the Sunwolves and the Brumbies on paper appear easier than the Rebels’ away matches to the Reds and Highlanders. Whilst a win by the Rebels may not guarantee top spot in the conference, with a six-point break to the 9th placed Sharks it will move them ever so closer to a finals spot.

Both teams have seven wins this season with the Waratahs also registering a draw early in the season against the Sharks at Kings Park in Durban.

Test Casualty Ward

There were numerous Rebels and Waratahs involved in the test window, predominantly for the Wallabies. Unfortunately, not all players reached the end of the test window unscathed. Melbourne Rebels captain Adam Coleman suffered an abductor strain in the third test v Ireland and the Rebels’ spiritual leader Will Genia broke his arm in the second test.

Speaking of captains and spiritual leaders Michael Hooper fits into both categories, will also be missing because of a hamstring injury suffered in the third test. On Wednesday Israel Folau was suspended for making contact with Peter O’Mahony in the air during the third test. This suspension is likely to be subject to an appeal. Personally I don’t think he should have received a suspension for the contest in the air. However, the Rebel blood running through my veins and heart would be more than happy for Folau to have a one week holiday. Bryce Hegarty would come off the bench to start at fullback if Folau is unsuccessful with his appeal.


Players to Watch

So, who should we keep our eye on?

Dane Haylett-Petty

Haylett-Petty has had an interrupted season with injury but played the three tests against Ireland. Haylett-Petty brings composure, experience and poise to the Rebels backline. He is solid under the high ball and there is minimal difference between his best and worst performances.

Geoff Parling

Geoff Parling replaces Adam Coleman at Lock and is vice-captain for the match. Parling has 29 tests for England and 3 tests for the British and Irish Lions under his belt. His experience around the field will be invaluable for the Rebels and watch for Parling at line out time.

Tom English

English is the leading try scorer in Super Rugby history for the Rebels with 17 tries (one ahead of Reece Hodge and Sefanaia Naivalu). He has the privilege of captaining the Rebels tonight. The output of English’s midfield combination with Billy Meakes, in both attack and defence will be of vital importance to the Rebels.

Bernard Foley

Foley is a key component in most of the Waratahs attack. His passing game is of great importance for the Waratahs getting on the front foot and over the advantage line. If it is a close game his goal kicking may also be key. Foley is also captaining his team in this match. Foley has somewhat unfairly received some criticism for his performances for both the Wallabies and Waratahs in the past. However, he is the best number ten in Australia by the length of the Flemington straight. (I will grant you it isn’t a Melbourne Cup field but that is not Foley’s fault).

Kurtley Beale

Kurtley Beale has speed, footwork and x factor. He can make something out of nothing. He has enjoyed playing against his former team the Rebels throughout the years, even before he joined the Rebels. He has scored 4 tries in 7 games against the Rebels. The Rebels defence will have to be completely organised and fully switched on to counter Beale’s attacking prowess.

Will Miller

Has the unenviable task of replacing injured skipper Michael Hooper in the number seven. Whilst it is near impossible to replace Hooper, Miller is known for his work ethic in defence and at the breakdown. Miller is a player I enjoy watching ply his trade as he gives 100 percent and throws himself at the contest.

Funnily enough Miller made his Super Rugby debut for the Rebels in Durban last season versus the Sharks, he made his Waratahs debut in March in Durban against the Sharks and both matches ended in a draw.


Is History a Precursor of the Future?

In two of the last three matches between these two sides the Rebels have flown out of the blocks but have been run down by the Waratahs. The last time the two sides met at AAMI Park the Rebels led 25 to 6 at half time but were outscored 26 to nil in the second half as David Horwitz scored on the siren to pinch the win for the Tahs.

The Rebels are a vastly different outfit than they were last year. Although, particularly early in this season the Rebels started a number of matches well but were unable to finish the matches in the second half.


I expect the Rebels to start the match well, but the Waratahs will not go away. It will be competitive for most, if not all the match. With a little bit more class, composure and x factor in the Waratahs team I am predicting that the Tahs will send the local fans, who at the start of the night will be full of anticipation and hope, home disappointed.  Waratahs by 10 points

Match Details

Match: Rebels v Waratahs @ AAMI Park, Melbourne

Date: Friday 29 June

Kick-off: 19:45 local

Referee: Nic Berry

AR1: Graham Cooper

AR2: Jordan Way

TMO: Damien Mitchelmore

Melbourne Rebels

1. Ben Daley, 2. Anaru Rangi, 3. Sam Talakai, 4. Matt Philip, 5. Geoff Parling (v/c), 6. Angus Cottrell, 7. Colby Fainga’a, 8. Amanaki Mafi, 9. Michael Ruru, 10. Reece Hodge, 11. Marika Koroibete, 12. Billy Meakes, 13. Tom English (captain), 14. Jack Maddocks, 15. Dane Haylett-Petty Reserves: 16. Nathan Charles, 17. Fereti Sa’aga, 18. Jermaine Ainsley, 19. Ross Haylett-Petty, 20. Lopeti Timani, 21. Harrison Goddard, 22. Jack Debreczeni, 23. Sefanaia Naivalu

 NSW Waratahs

1. Tom Robertson, 2. Damien Fitzpatrick, 3. Sekope Kepu, 4. Jed Holloway, 5. Rob Simmons (v/c), 6. Ned Hanigan, 7. Will Miller, 8. Michael Wells, 9. Nick Phipps, 10. Bernard Foley (captain), 11. Taqele Naiyaravoro, 12. Kurtley Beale, 13. Curtis Rona, 14. Cam Clark, 15. Israel Folau * Reserves: 16. Tolu Latu, 17. Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18. Paddy Ryan, 19. Tom Staniforth, 20. Brad Wilkin, 21. Jake Gordon, 22. Bryce Hegarty, 23. Alex Newsome

* Subject to successful judiciary appeal

  • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

    Thanks for the preview, Scott! I like the lack of that Rebels pack. I think it is far better balanced than the one that they put out last time the teams played in Sydney.

    The question is, what is the bigger loss – Folau and Hooper or Genia and Coleman?

    In my opinion Genia is the biggest loss. Without him the Rebels really lack anyone capable of managing the game. He was their main playmaker and, really, their captain this season.

    Miller may not be as good as Hooper but he can fill Hooper’s role. Ruru can do nothing of the sort in terms of replacing Genia. Meanwhile, Hegarty has done brilliantly when given the shot.

    That being said, I think the Rebels might just edge it. I think whoever wins this is likely to top the conference. A big match indeed.

  • juswal

    Good write-up, Scott. I’m looking forward to seeing Billy Meakes back in action because he was on fire before the break.

  • Hoss

    Nice peace Mr Rea. I reckon my Tahs will be aggressive on ball with the Miller boy at 7, but less dangerous in attack with the Pastor sidelined.

    Parling hasnt had much game time this year, but what he has done wont fill the Tah’s with fear and Simmo should control the line-out well (having said that i reckon Phillips was a tad unlucky not to be in gold in June). Ruru, i dont see what (admittedly Rebels fans) see in him, i think he is poor in most facets of 9 play. Hodge at 10 is a win for the Tah’s, Holloway was a revelation at lock before the june test window, Wells is improving with each run and then there’s the Fijian Tank on one wing and i reckon overall the Tah’s get this one by 13+. Man for man, pound for pound the Tahs are the better team.

    • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

      Question is, can the Tahs contain Amanaki Mafi? If yes then they win, if not, then it could be a long night.

      • Hoss

        Fair question and i am reminded of Churchill’s Russian description that can apply here – a riddle, inside a mystery inside and enigma. I find Mafi equal parts dynamic, selfish and dumb (discipline). Good engine, willing, keen – yes to all, but his legend and his actual deeds don’t marry up

        Watch him run for 200m and score three tries having said that.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          I presume you’ve already knocked on wood?

        • Keith Butler

          You said the word Hoss. Mafia is selfish. Runs mega metres but does not look for support. Lack of peripheral vision. Much as I’d like the Rebs to take this one the Tahs will be too strong up front. Rebs half backs not up to it.

        • D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies

          To be honest I’d definitely take the Rebels’ back-row > Waratahs.

          I don’t know if he is selfish so much as he is just far better than most of the rest of the Rebels. I certainly don’t think he runs away from support any more. than Hooper. Neither of them are Read or Faletau in their abilities.

      • Timbo

        Tahs have 4 back rowers in the 8. I should hope they can contain him. should. hope. :/

  • Bobas

    This should be a cracker of a game. I think and hope the Rebels will win.
    This will be the first game since probably Mortlock’s era or even before that there will be two Aussie super rugby teams squaring off with double digit numbered captains.

  • Rebels Ruck

    Looking forward to being at the game tomorrow night. Both very powerful backlines, although the Rebels won’t be as composed without both Genia and Coleman. Would love to see both backlines rip it up and make it a high scoring match. Rebels certainly have the ability to win if they put together 80 solid minutes but I worry the Waratahs just have the edge in class and depth. Hodge needs to be a genuine 10 – managing the game and setting up the attack, not catch & pass and joining in the rucks like a 13. Should be great. If the Rebels get up, it will be one of those matches people look back at and think, “that’s when the Rebels became serious contenders”.

  • Scott Rea

    Thanks D. Braithwaite’s The Brumbies, Hoss and juswal for your positive feedback.

  • Jack

    a great read Scott. Only thing I would add is my concern re player fitness, but then it applies to both teams, so perhaps not worth mentioning. IMH though, it is the Rebels whose fitness is weakest. So, agree, Rebels to start strong, and possibly lead, but the Tahs to keep up their momentum for the full 80 minutes which may.

  • idiot savant

    I was wondering during the Tahs Reds game what the result would have been if Folau was on the other side (as he might be next year). Does he make the Tahs a better side than they are? Well, we will find out on Saturday. I like Will Miller and dont think the Tahs will miss Hoops as much as they might Folau. But then again I like Hegarty too. A very under rated player. It will be interesting to see if the Tah machine functions as well without Folau.

  • Fifita Ngaue

    Why is Tolu Latu on the bench?? In a must win game for the Tahs surely politics needs to be put aside and let the boy play!!! What a joke!

    • Huck

      I hear he still can’t pass the fitness test that Gibson requires for run on

      • Fifita Ngaue

        Yeah rubbish excuse! He can pass the test to play Wallabies but not good enough to start for Tahs??!! They are running out of excuses to keep him out of the team!!! No way Fitzpatrick is fitter or even gets through half the work rate on the field that Tolu does AND his set play was solid for the wallabies so what other excuses do they have?! Tahs coaches need to check themselves!! To have a player like that out for most the season, be a stand out for the wallabies and then can’t even get a start!!! What a joke!!!!

  • Adrian

    Tahs I think

  • Braveheart81

    I’m surprised the bookies have the Rebels as underdogs at home. I think it will be close and Folau is a big loss to the Tahs since the teams were named. Genia is probably the biggest loss for either team though as he has been so crucial to the Rebels playing well this season. Hopefully the Tahs can get across the line.

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