This week the Melbourne Rebels wrap up their tour to South Africa with a match against the Stormers at Newlands in Cape Town. The Rebels are still looking to break their duck in South Africa.
The Stormers have won three and lost six matches and the Rebels have won 4 matches and lost 4 matches in 2018. Both teams have lost their last three matches.
The Stormers had several chances last week against the Sharks to score late and to pinch a draw, but to no avail. All three of the Stormers’ wins have come at Newlands, making the task much harder for the Rebels.
The Rebels in previous matches against the Waratahs, Hurricanes and Jaguares had good first halves but were overrun in the second half. Last week Dave Wessels admitted to trying to slow things down in the first half to help the Rebels come home strong.
The good news is that the Rebels’ second half was vastly improved. The bad news is that the first half from the Rebels was average. That leaves one more thing to try this week; a complete, 80 minute performance.
Head-to-head the Stormers have won four matches with the Rebels only registering one win v the Stormers back at AAMI park.
The Stormers lose Raymond Rhule and Jan de Klerk from last week’s squad. JJ Engelbrecht and Kobus Van Dyk come from the bench into the starting XV and Cobus Wiese and Rugby sevens star Seabelo Senatla come onto the bench. There are a number of reshuffles in the forward pack.
The Rebels have had injuries impact on their lineup with Haylett-Petty squared, Jordan Uelese, and Richard Hardwick out injured from last week’s squad. Lopeti Timani and Billy Meakes move into the starting XV and Colby Fainga’a and the inexperienced Sama Malololo and Semisi Tupou coming onto the bench. Maddocks, English and Hodge have all changed positions from last week, and Talakai and Ainsley swapping between starting XV and bench.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Damian de Allende
The impressive inside centre can cause headaches for opposition teams. de Allende is heavily involved in the Stormers’ attack. He has the second most carries in the competition this season and is equal sixth for defenders beaten. The Rebels defensive level will need to bring their A game to contain de Allende.
Pieter-Steph du Toit
Pieter-Steph du Toit brings plenty of Super Rugby and test experience to the Springboks. He is hard working in both defence and attack and you will often see him receiving the ball in space out wide. du Toit has also won the most line outs for the Stormers this season.
The dynamic fullback is someone that the Rebels can’t afford to give any space to. He has pace, a step and an offload and can create havoc for opposition teams.
The hard running Japanese number eight has continued his form that saw him win the 2017 Rebels player of the year and the 2017 Australian Super Rugby player of the year. In 2018 Mafi leads the competition for carries with 123 and is second for metres carried with 695 metres. With the forwards that the Rebels picked up with the unfortunate demise of the Force you would expect that Mafi would receive some support from the Rebels forward pack. However, he is still almost playing a lone hand again this season.
Jack Maddocks the exciting young utility is top five in the competition for metres carried and is in the top ten with five tries. With Dane Haylett-Petty out injured Maddocks is filling in at full back and will be pivotal to the Rebels’ chances of winning.
This will be Ruru’s second start at scrumhalf for the Rebels. He has big shoes to fill with Will Genia out injured. Ruru was able to get over the try line last week. Quick service from the base of the rucks will increase the likelihood of a Rebels win.
The Stormers have only had three wins this season and are currently sitting 12th on the table. However, those three wins have all come at home. Plus they gave the Sharks a run for their money last week.
The Rebels season took a blow with a tight loss to the Jaguares but also on the same day with the injury to Will Genia. The Rebels have never won in South Africa and last week had a significant number of players succumb to injury, concussion and altitude sickness (aka cramp). These injuries have led to there being a fair bit of inexperience on the Rebels bench. Unfortunately I think Rebels fans will have to wait at least one more year for the elusive win in South Africa. Stormers by 10 points.
Stormers: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Craig Barry, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 JJ Engelbrecht, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Chris van Zyl, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Cobus Wiese, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 SP Marais, 23 Seabelo Senatla
Rebels: 15 Jack Maddocks, 14 Tom English, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Angus Cottrell, 6 Lopeti Timani, 5 Adam Coleman (c), 4 Matt Philip, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Tetera Faulkner
Replacements: 16 Sama Malolo, 17 Fereti Sa’aga, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Colby Fainga’a, 21 Harrison Goddard, 22 Semisi Tupou, 23 Sefa Naivalu
At DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Friday 27 April at 3:05pm local time 11:05pm AEST
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Referees: Marius van der Westhuizen and Rasta Rasivhenge
TMO: Christie du Preez
Stats courtesy of Sanzar Rugby website