Super Rugby Preview: Brumbies host Reds in top of the ladder clash - Green and Gold Rugby
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Super Rugby Preview: Brumbies host Reds in top of the ladder clash

Super Rugby Preview: Brumbies host Reds in top of the ladder clash

Saturday night of Super Rugby AU’s round five fixture will see the competition’s two undefeated sides come together for a hotly anticipated clash in freezing conditions in the nation’s capital. After four rounds, the Reds and the Brumbies have set the pace in the experimental competition but the Brumbies are heavy favourites, and deservedly so. What chance do the Reds have? Let’s take a look.

Form

 Reds

The Reds have come away with two wins and a draw to start the Super Rugby AU season. Even considering the abridged nature of the season, wins are wins, and the long-suffering Reds fans haven’t enjoyed many over the last few (several) seasons. The Reds’ ability to avoid losing tight games has been a hallmark of the season so far, even if it is at the expense of another Australian team’s inability to win tight games. They secured a clutch win over the Tahs in round one (32-26) thanks to the boot of James O’Connor, drew with the Rebels 18-18 after a try on the buzzer, and took a close but comfortable win over the Force 31-24 before heading into the bye last week. The young Reds side are enjoying a rare opportunity to get some wins on the board, and mature as a result. This would have gone a long way in gratifying the culture Brad Thorn has been trying to ingrain in the squad.

James O'Connor QLD Reds v Western Force (Photo Credit QRU Brendan Hertel)

James O’Connor – key for the Reds (Photo Credit QRU Brendan Hertel)

Brumbies

The Brumbies have been the form team of the competition so far, and so they should be. They have the strongest roster and the best coaching set-up. They cruised to a comfortable 31-23 win over the Rebels in round one but took a while to get going against the Waratahs, coming back from a 17-5 deficit to take a 24-23 win thanks to a maiden Super Rugby try for Isaak Fines and a conversion from young flyhalf Bayley Kuenzle. Last weekend they gave the Force a bit of touch up, leaving them scoreless in a 24-0 win. The Brumbies, renowned for their dour style of play, have surprised the committed fan on the stats sheet. They are leading the comp in tries and defenders beaten, but get this, they are comfortably last in kicks from hand (46; Waratahs 1st with 90) and have not kicked a penalty goal all season!

Key Match-ups

This will be the toughest match-up yet for the much-hyped young Reds backrow of Angus Scott-Young, skipper Liam Wright, and Harry Wilson. They will come up against a seasoned and in-form Brumbies trio consisting of young bull Rob Valetini, Will Miller and Wallaby, Pete Samu.

In a surprising move the Reds have demoted Fraser McReight to the bench who has impressed since coming into the starting side and is leading the competition in pilfers, preferring the size of Angus Scott-Young to match up with the Brumbies’ weight class. Harry Wilson was voted the best new talent by fans as the Australian rookie of the year when the season closed down in March and it’s not hard to see why. The 20-year-old behemoth is second in the competition in carries which is impressive considering the damage he does with the ball in hand.

There is not much to say statistics-wise for the Brumbies backrow, partly due to a lack of in-depth statistics available to the Australian rugby union punter, but also because the role of the Brumbies’ loosies is not one which shows up on the stats sheet. The role of these three will be to strangle the Reds’ ruck and maintain their competition-leading defensive efficiency against big ball carriers like Taniela Tupou and Harry Wilson.

Team news

Tom Banks, hit and spin.

Tom Banks, hit and spin.

Reds: Really exciting news for Reds fans with the earlier than anticipated return of prodigy Jordan Petaia on the bench in place of Josh Flook. Dane Zander gets a run at prop with Harry Hoopert out of the side, and Angus Blyth is back in the team, shifting Angus Scott-Young to blindside flanker and Fraser McReight to the pine. Scott Malolua earns a start, swapping with Tate McDermott. The rest of the backline is unchanged.

Brumbies: Scott Sio gets back in the starting XV in a swap with James Slipper while highly-rated rookie lock Nick Frost is promoted to start with Murray Douglas out of the team. Will Miller is also promoted from the bench taking over Tom Cusack’s spot at openside. Bayley Kuenzle gets a nod at flyhalf after an impressive performance last week, with Noah Lolesio out of the side altogether. Solomone Kata is back on the wing in place of Andy Muirhead who shifts to the bench.

Past 5 Meetings

Brumbies 27 – Reds 24 (Canberra, Round 1, 2020)

Brumbies 40 – Reds 27 (Canberra, Round 18, 2019)

Brumbies 14 – Reds 36 (Brisbane, Round 6, 2019)

Brumbies 45 – Reds 21 (Canberra, Round 7, 2018)

Brumbies 10 – Reds 18 (Brisbane, Round 2, 2018)

Prediction

The Reds are definitely on the improve but the staunch Brumbies defense will smother the Reds thriving attack. The Brumbies will look to gain the ascendancy with their set-piece to piggy back up the field and advance into attacking situations where they can utilise their clinical rolling maul. Don’t expect any shots for three by the Brumbies though! Hopefully we a see some entertaining ball in hand footy, but I don’t think the Reds will be hot enough on a cold Canberra night. Brumbies by 10.

Team Lists

Photo Credit Brendan Hertel / QRU

Petaia – it’s been a while (Photo Credit Brendan Hertel / QRU)

Brumbies

15 Tom Banks
14 Solomone Kata
13 Tevita Kuridrani
12 Irae Simone
11 Tom Wright
10 Bayley Kuenzle
9 Joe Powell
8 Pete Samu
7 Will Miller
6 Rob Valetini
5 Nick Frost
4 Darcy Swain
3 Allan Alaalatoa (c)
2 Folau Fainga’a
1 Scott Sio

Bench:
16 Connal McInerney
17 James Slipper
18 Tom Ross
19 Tom Cusack
20 Lachlan McCaffrey
21 Issak Fines
22 Mack Hansen
23 Andy Muirhead

Reds

15 Jock Campbell
14 Chris Feauai-Sautia
13 Hunter Paisami
12 Hamish Stewart
11 Filipo Daugunu
10 James O’Connor
9 Scott Malolua
8 Harry Wilson
7 Liam Wright (c)
6 Angus Scott-Young
5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto
4 Angus Blyth
3 Taniela Tupou
2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa
1 Dane Zander

Bench:
16 Alex Mafi
17 Feao Fotuaika
18 Jack Straker
19 Ryan Smith
20 Fraser McReight
21 Tate McDermott
22 Bryce Hegarty
23 Jordan Petaia 

Match Details

Date: Saturday 1st August 2020
Venue: GIO Stadium Canberra
Kick-Off: 7:15pm East Coast Elite Time
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant Ref 1: Jordan Way
Assistant Ref 2: Reuben Keane
TMO: Ian Smith

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks Adam,
    Good analysis and I think this will be a game of 2 styles. Brumbies keeping it tight and Reds moving it more. I think this is a chance for JOC to cement himself with a clinical display. Toomua looked good last week but to be fair it was against the Tahs so not hard. Brumbies had some great long range tries last week and showed they can throw it around at times but seem to prefer to keep it tight unless an opportunity arises. Hope they recognize it when it happens.
    I tend to agree with your score but wont be surprised with an upset

  • Jason

    I suspect the Reds moving McDermott to the bench could be a difference maker. It might disrupt the Brumbies game plan, it might let the Reds to go into defence mode for the first half while then going into full on attack mode in the second, it might leave the Reds lacking.

    Reds by 2 or Brumbies by 5.

    • Kristian Thomas

      It might be to try to counter the Brumbies’ defence… Malolua distributes the ball straight from the deck while Tate tends to pick up and then look or take a step.

  • Brisneyland Local

    Adam, welcome to the fold. Great write up.
    This is the Aus game of the round and I think might be a real close slugfest. The cold of Canberra is going to hurt the Reds that is for sure. The Reds set piece should be stronger, especially the scrum. Lets see whose hooker can throw a straight one this week, as that might have a significant impact.JOC has been improving every week.
    I think we might also see a few cheeses in this match just quietly.
    I reckon it will be very close. Ponies by 3.

  • idiot savant

    Good summary Adam. I think it will be tight. The Brums should have a slight edge in just about everything. The scrum because the Reds have 3 inexperienced props, the line outs because the Reds have really struggled there, and the breakdown because the Reds only have one pilferer to the Brums 3. I think the backs are much more even. The Brums coaching staff are clearly better and will have prepared better with a game plan to nullify the Reds strengths. I expect the Brums back row to hold the key particularly in defence around the ruck and I also expect high line speed defence from the Brumbies. Look out for Tom Wright. He’s a match winner.

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