Will the force be with the Rebels? - Green and Gold Rugby
Melbourne Rebels

Will the force be with the Rebels?

Will the force be with the Rebels?

On Star Wars Days the Rebels will face the Empire (of Super Rugby)

My verskonings aan die lesers van Perth, the pun may sound bitter to yous, not intended. But on a day like that a team called the Rebels cannot inspire anything else then my inner nerd.

And yes, the (Western) Force is already in Melbourne, in scores, you are right, I can hear you, it is not Melbournians’ fault, laat ons vriende wees!

But tomorrow the red white and blue, will need also the galactic one to defeat the most powerful team of the competition. A team that is dominating the Oval Galaxy with an iron fist from their Crusaders’ armours, made of men that end up sooner or later wearing black.

May the Force be with the Rebels!

The Form

The Melbourne Rebels lost their steam in the past month, after their best start of the season in history, they lost four games in a row and lost their surprising first spot on top of the Australian Conference to the Waratahs.

On the other side the Cantabrians fly to Melbourne on a 5 games winning streak that saw them rise to the top of the combined ladder thanks to last week’s Lion’s loss to the Reds.

The Teams

Rebels

Licking their wounds from yet another winless South African tour, the Rebels changed six players from the staring XV versus the Stormers.  Most important inclusion, is the return of Will Genia, who missed the trip to the Republic due to an hamstring injury.

Along with the mercurial scrumhalf, the Rebels welcome Fereti Sa’aga, Sam Talakai, veteran English international Geoff Parling at his first run on match, and Colby Fainga’a on the blindside.  Jack Maddocks returns from a minor injury and will start at fullback, with Dane Haylett-Petty still out.

Crusaders

Six changes in the starting XV also for the reigning champions: four in the forward pack, three in the backs.  The big inclusion is the return of All Black first five Richie Mo’unga, who has recovered from a fractured jaw.

A mix of old and young new starters in the front row: retiring champion Wyatt Crockett earnd his 195th  Super Rugby cap, and the talented Andrew Makalio starts at hooker.  Melbourne born Pete Samu earns a start at blindside flanker, replacing Scott Robertson.

The other changes in the back row are scrum half Mitchell Drummond and centre Jack Goodhue.

Considerations

The Rebels face the hardest task possible in the competition, with the New Zealand conference crowded at the top as usual, the Crusaders will aim to the 5 points and will make no prisoners at AAMI Park.

The Rebels must improve at the set pieces, the scrum and the line out let them down in Cape Town, to be able to keep the pace with the visitors from across the ditch.

Key Contests

So, where are the key battles for the match?

Number 8

Two of the most exciting number eights will square off: Amanaki Mafi and Jordan Taufua. It will a fierce contest and we are sure that none of the two players will back off easily.

The front row

The most important part of any team, the three squaring off at scrums and line outs are in the modern day no more just than powerful pushers, especially the kiwi thought the rest of the world the art of converting hookers and props in real attacking weapons.

The Rebels suffered in South Africa because of their front rowers, hence Dave Wesels made some changes, will they be enough to counter the mix of experience and young talent of their opponents?

Koroibete-Naivalu vs Bridge-Tamanivalu

All of the four wingers can be deadly, three of them come from Fiji to seek glory in their new countries and have all already donned the jersey of their adoptive nation. Bridge, a born and bred kiwi, is destined to do the same.

Prediction

As well as we would like on Friday night to write about an upset victory from the Rebels, this most likely will not be the case. The Crusaders are a perfectly oiled war machine and they start as hot favourites.

We do not expect however the visitors to run away with a humiliating score, the Rebels should be able to stay into the game until the last quarter, may the Force be with them.

Crusaders by 8

 

The Lineups

Rebels

1. Fereti Sa’aga
2. Anaru Rangi
3. Sam Talakai
4. Geoff Parling
5. Adam Coleman (C)
6. Angus Cottrell
7. Colby Fainga’a
8. Amanaki Mafi
9. Will Genia
10. Jack Debreczeni
11. Marika Koroibete
12. Billy Meakes
13. Reece Hodge
14. Sefa Naivalu
15. Jack Maddocks

Reserves:

16. Nathan Charles
17. Tetera Faulkner
18. Jermaine Ainsley
19. Matt Philip
20. Lopeti Timani
21. Michael Ruru
22. Tom English
23. Semisi Tupou

Crusaders

1. Wyatt Crockett
2. Andrew Makalio
3. Owen Franks
4. Scott Barrett
5. Sam Whitelock (C)
6. Pete Samu
7. Matt Todd
8. Jordan Taufua
9. Mitchell Drummond
10. Richie Mo’unga
11. George Bridge
12. Ryan Crotty
13. Jack Goodhue
14. Seta Tamanivalu
15. David Havili

Reserves:
16. Codie Taylor
17. Harry Allan
18. Michael Alaalatoa
19. Mitchell Dunshea
20. Heiden Bedwell-Curtis
21. Bryn Hall
22. Mitchell Hunt
23. Manasa Mataele


Details

Date: Friday, May 4

Venue: AAMI Stadium, Melbourne

Kick-off: 19:45 AEDT

Referee: Nick Briant

Assistant Ref:Will Houston, James Leckie

TMO : Ian Smith

  • 2bluesfan

    Big test for Adam Coleman this week. I like your confidence in the Rebels but, as you say, it’s hard to see them staying with the Crusaders. Still, stranger things have happened.

  • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

    The Force will not be with the Rebels tonight as they will be playing in Perth. I am sure many of the Rebels players would also rather be in Perth at this historic night playing in front of a packed nib stadium. The atmosphere will be electric as we look forward to forging our own future indepedent of Rugby Australia.

    • 22metri

      sure mate, the rugby world is holding its breath for Twiggy’s revolution!

  • John R

    I messaged the Rebels and said that if they manage to smash that mongrel bunch of bastards from ChCh, that I’d shout the whole squad a pint.

    In finance, they’d call this hedging.

    Up the Rebs!

    • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

      You must be delighted that you saved money.

      • John R

        Somehow it didn’t quite have the cushioning effect I was hoping for. Bloody miserable game.

Melbourne Rebels
@http://twitter.com/22metri

Diego Ghirardi is a rugby fanatic from Italy, living in Melbourne. Played on the wing, now mainly couch flanker or sideline halfback. Enjoys writing in broken English, which should be read in a Franco Cozzo accent to render it more original. In case you understand Italian, you can read his banters on http://australiasport.org or better not

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