Preview: Rebels Vs Hurricanes - Green and Gold Rugby
Melbourne Rebels

Preview: Rebels Vs Hurricanes

Preview: Rebels Vs Hurricanes

Here we are, finally. It’s Round 7 of Super Rugby 2018 and, for the first time this season, we have a trans-Tasman clash. The Super Rugby leading Melbourne Rebels play the form New Zealand side, the Hurricanes at AAMI Park.


Both sides recorded impressive wins last start, the Rebels made short work of the Sharks at home while the Hurricanes put an end to the Highlander’s undefeated run. The Hurricanes have an impressive record against the Rebels. The last five games between the two sides have all gone the way of the New Zealanders, with an average margin of 33 points. The ‘Canes have actually won eight of their last nine games in Australia, including their last five straight.

The last time the two sides met the Hurricanes smashed the Rebels 71-6 in Wellington. Much has changed since then however.

Melbourne Rebels

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The Rebels have recorded four bonus point wins and have the best points differential (+77 points) in the competition. With 28 trys scored in five games there is no doubting the team’s ability to cross the chalk. In defence, the home side’s record is not quite as stellar; they have conceded an average of three trys per game and have the worst tackle success rate (82%) in the Australian Conference.

In attack, the Rebels love to run the ball. They average over 100 carries and 520 run metres per game off the back of a forward pack that has dominated the ruck area. This has allowed Will Genia to direct the play, finding runners looking for gaps either side of the breakdown.

The Rebels scrum has been solid but accuracy at the lineout has let them down on several occasions with over-throws a particular issue.

The Hurricanes

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The 2016 Champions are the bookies’ favourites to win the competition again this year, and for good reason. Their only defeat occurred in their first match, a two point loss to the Bulls in South Africa. They have the competition’s second best points differential (+50 points) but have played one less game than the Rebels.

Currently the ‘Canes sit in second place in their conference, one point behind the Crusaders who have played one more game. They have already beaten two of their three main conference competitors – defeating the Crusaders 29-19 and the Highlanders 29-12. Their other result was a 34-9 win away over the Jaguares in Round 3.

The Hurricane’s defence is the stingiest in the competition having let in a miserly eight trys to date. They tend to play tight until they turnover possession and then their big backline creates chaos.


With a nearly full list from which to choose, coach Dave Wessells has complained about losing sleep contemplating the line up for this week. He has decided on three changes to the starting side that took apart the Sharks in Round Six. Lopeti Timani, Matt Philip and Tom English return after being rested. Colby Fainga’a and Sefa Naivalu drop back to the bench and lock, Geoff Parling has been omitted. Ben Daley and Jordan Uelese have recovered from injury and will replace Fereti Sa’aga and Mahe Vailanu as substitutes.

The Hurricanes have also made three changes to the starters, losing both Mike Proctor and Ardie Savea to injury. Sam Henwood will earn his debut at openside flanker and last year’s try scoring machine, Vince Aso replaces Proctor. In a big boost for the visitors, Vaea Fifita resumes his place in the second row at the expense of former Rebel, Murray Douglas.

The big question this week will be whether or not the Rebels are capable of breaking down the Hurricanes’ water tight defence and create line breaks and opportunities for the outside backs. With this in mind, the Rebels are going into the game with a very big backrow, essentially playing dual blindside flankers, and a six-two bench split.

As all teams do, by fair means or foul, the Hurricanes will target Will Genia and try to prevent him getting clean ball away. They will try and play at a high tempo and look to create openings in broken play.

The Rebels will need to make their first up tackles stick or good luck trying to contain Lam, Savea or Other Barrett if they get space on the outside.
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Will Genia Vs TJ Perenara

This battle will be decided by whichever teams’ forward pack can provide their respective little general better protection and better access to the ball. The Rebels defenders need to heap the pressure on Perenara and give him no space around the rucks to make his breaks.

Jack Debreczeni Vs Beauden Barrett

This one looks like a complete mismatch, “the master” vs “the guy that could potentially be a pretty good player”, but JD has been in good form and may have played his best ever match last week. He needs to find a way to just break even and not try and overplay his hand when under pressure.

The Forward Packs

Of course the match up between the packs will decide the winner, it usually does. Both teams have plenty of threats out wide and quality runners in their backlines but the forwards will need to provide the opportunities to strike.


The Hurricanes are just about the complete team and boast star quality everywhere. They are in form, have beaten quality opponents in recent weeks, and deserve to go in to this game as favourites.

The Hurricanes probably need this win more than the Rebels. The New Zealand conference is tight, very tight, only two points separate first and fourth and the Crusaders are only leading by way of the fact that they have played an extra game. Away wins are crucial to any team’s chance of winning their conference and earning a home final.

Many pundits are saying that they hope the Rebels can get close and earning a losing bonus point will be a great result. Bugger that. Australia needs the Rebels to win this week and I think (hope) they can. Rebels by two points #ibelieve.

Here’s some evidence that it can be done.


Melbourne Rebels

  1. Tetera Faulkner
  2. Anaru Rangi
  3. Jermaine Ainsley
  4. Matt Philip
  5. Adam Coleman (C)
  6. Lopeti Timani
  7. Angus Cottrell
  8. Amanaki Mafi
  9. Will Genia
  10. Jack Debreczeni
  11. Marika Koroibete
  12. Bill Meakes
  13. Reece Hodge
  14. Tom English
  15. Jack Maddocks 


  16. Jordan Uelese
  17. Ben Daley
  18. Sam Talakai
  19. Ross Haylett-Petty
  20. Colby Fainga’a
  21. Richard Hardwick
  22. Michael Ruru
  23. Sefanaia Naivalu


  1. Chris Eves
  2. Ricky Riccitelli
  3. Ben May
  4. Vaea Fifita
  5. Sam Lousi
  6. Brad Shields
  7. Sam Henwood
  8. Gareth Evans
  9. TJ Perenara
  10. Beauden Barrett
  11. Ben Lam
  12. Ngani Laumape
  13. Vince Aso
  14. Julian Savea
  15. Jordie Barrett 


  16. Asafo Aumua
  17. Fraser Armstrong
  18. Jeff Toomaga-Allen
  19. Michael Fatialofa
  20. Reed Prinsep
  21. Jamie Booth
  22. Ihaia West
  23. Wes Goosen


Date: Friday 30 March
Kick-off: 19:45 local
Referee: Angus Gardner
AR1: William Houston
AR2: Jordan Way
TMO: George Ayoub
Weather: Partly cloudy, maximum of 23
  • Huw Tindall

    Wow was that the original Rebels side in that clip? Mortlock and Phipps. Cipriani even. Looked like a cracker of a game. 42 unanswered points on after being down 17 nil or so.

    Can’t see the same result this weekend but fingers crossed the Rebels sneak a win by frustrating TJ and Canes into rash passes and miracle plays.

    • Mr Wobbly

      It was a cracker of a game and a sensational atmosphere at the ground.

  • Kokonutcreme

    I was there at that game supporting my home team the Hurricanes, wasn’t prepared for the second half capitulation – didn’t see it coming. Hurricanes won’t be taking the Rebels lightly and are affording them the respect a team at the top of the ladder has earned.

    I’m confident of a Hurricanes victory if they’re switched on. if they turn up like they did against the Bulls in round 1 they’ll have their arses handed to them on a plate like in 2011.

    Bench split of 6 forwards and 2 backs indicates where Wessels believes they need to dominate to win, supported by playing Timani in the backrow together with Mafi. Lots of power, lots of running. Surprised Naivalu isn’t starting ahead of English – is that a defensive concession?

    Canes have been a strong defensive unit and Shields has been at the heart of that effort together with Sam Lousi and the injured Matt Proctor.

    Ngani Laumape is the key to the Canes backline. Beauden Barrett gets all the attention and accolades, because of those moments of brilliance he’s capable of pulling out of the hat. But for sheer consistency, ball carrying ability, attracting defenders and creating space where none exists – Ngani is the Canes go to man. If you squeeze Perenara and stop Laumape then Barrett becomes a one man show and for all his talent, pace and ability, one man can’t beat an entire team.

    Can the Rebels do that for 80 minutes?

    • Brumby Runner

      Not so sure about Barrett. Pretty sure I saw him almost single handedly beat either the Wallabies or the Brumbies (can’t remember which) a year or so ago. He attracted three and four defenders every time he got the ball which allowed him to set up his outside runners to greatest effect. When he decided to run himself, he even beat the three or so defenders who had targeted him.

    • Mr Wobbly

      Are you going to be there tonight, Koko*?

      • Kokonutcreme

        Unfortunately no, out of Melbourne on family holiday for Easter break. Will watch it live.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Nice write up Mr Wobly. Right up there jnt you got the prediction so wrong. Love your loyalty but mine’s also on the line. Hurricanes by 10

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