The Melbourne Rebels will host the Argentinian side in the last game of the season.
Friday night will be the last time the Rebels will run on the pitch of AAMI Stadium, either for 2017 or for good.
In a season that has been distracted enough from the incompetency of the ARU to provide a clear direction to the clubs, let us not lose focus on the most important things of all: the sport we love.
The game will be played on Bastille Day, and we all know how it ended up in 1789: a group of Rebels won and nobles’ heads rolled. ARU, you’ve been warned.
The Rebels have had a terrible 2017, with only one win and one draw. They are last in the Australian Conference, ten points adrift of the Tahs and only two points ahead of the Sunwolves in the overall ladder.
The Jaguares have one on six occasions this year, including a boilover against the Waratahs last Saturday night in Sydney. Despite their on-field success, more was expected of a team with a number of internationals in the Jaguares squad.
For the last game at the helm of the Rebels, Tony McGahan has made two changes, with Sean McMahon and Jack Maddocks returning to the starting side. Departing Mitch Inman will farewell the Rebels celebrating a ton of Super Rugby games.
“Mad Dog” McMahon was never able to play with continuity and was sidelined for the best part of the season, while the young gun Maddocks has been out since Round 13 due to an arm injury.
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The only foundation player still at the club, Laurie Weeks has been confirmed in the starting line-up with Toby Smith and hooker Chibba Hanson. Lopeti Timpani and Steve Cummins will again combine in the second row, while McMahon will form a strong third row with Colby Fainga’a and Japanese sensation Amanaki Mafi.
However, the Rebels’ forwards will have a gargantuan task against the Jaguares. The Argentinian will have a test quality line-up, lead by Puma’s Captain Augustin Creevy. On his sides Nahuel Chaparro and Enrique Pieretto will form a formidable front row.
The Jaguares pack – formidable.
Petti and Macome will be the usual threat at the line-out, an area where the Rebels usually struggle.The Argentinian third rows will have more than hundred international caps on show with Senatore and Matera leading the way.
The Argentinian back row boasts over 100 international caps of experience, with Senatore and Matera leading the way.
Captain Stirzaker and kiwi import Garden-Bachop will have the crucial task to feed the backs and make the most of speedster Marika Koroibete.
The Jaguares midfield will again have plenty of international experience on display with Pumas Martín Landau and Nico Sánchez at 9 and 10 respectively. Youngster Emiliano Boffelli will be the player to watch in the Argentinian backs.
The Rebels will have an extremely difficult task against a superior team, at least on paper. Although the Jaguares have struggled for consistency, they will start as favourites and are expected to win.
Hopefully, the Rebels will not honour the French anniversary by raising a white flag.
Jaguares by 7
1. Toby Smith
2. James Hanson
3. Laurie Weeks
4. Steve Cummins
5. Lopeti Timani
6. Sean McMahon
7. Colby Fainga’a
8. Amanaki Mafi
9. Nic Stirzaker (Captain)
10. Jackson Garden-Bachop
11. Marika Koroibete
12. Reece Hodge
13. Mitch Inman
14. Tom English
15. Jack Maddocks
1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro
2 Agustin Creevy (Captain)
3 Enrique Pieretto
4 Guido Petti
5 Benjamin Macome
6 Pablo Matera
7 Rodrigo Báez
8 Leonardo Senatore
9 Martín Landajo
10 Nicolás Sánchez
11 Emiliano Boffelli
12 Bautista Ezcurra
13 Matías Orlando
14 Matías Moroni
15 Joaquín Tuculet
Date: Saturday, July 14
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 19:45 AEST
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant Referees: Damon Murphy, James Leckie
TMO: Damien Mitchelmore