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Waratahs vs Rebels
Super Rugby, 18 March, 2018
|Fulltime - Waratahs 51, Rebels 27|
|Referee: Brendon Pickerill|
|Touch judges: Federico Anselmi & Graham Cooper|
|TMO: Damien Mitchelmore|
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The Waratahs have recorded a remarkable victory at home this afternoon, smashing the Rebels 51-27 after trailing 20-3 at one stage in the first half.
The undefeated Melbourne Rebels will fancy their chances of upsetting a NSW Waratahs outfit coming off a poor defeat to the Jaguares last week. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match from 4pm AEDT.
The Rebels lead the Australian conference with 15 points and are currently undefeated. Still, one can’t help but feel that Melbourne needs to overcome tougher tests to prove that they are in fact the real deal this season.
This afternoon, Melbourne travels to Allianz Stadium to take on a Waratahs outfit kicking themselves after producing a poor performance en route to a 10 point defeat to the Jaguares.
After opening the season with a win and a draw, the Waratahs once again fell to bad habits last week, conceding five tries in the first half that effectively killed off the contest by the break.
When the Waratahs did attack last week, they produced some great offloading that should cause the Rebels significant issues this week, but only if they are prepared to knuckle down and engage in an arm wrestle.
In team news, Israel Folau has been moved to the wing as Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson makes major changes to his side to tackle the pacesetting Rebels in Sydney on Sunday.
The superstar Wallabies fullback will start on the left wing at Allianz Stadium, with Gibson forecasting a bombardment of crossfield kicks towards Folau to combat against the Rebels’ rush defence.
Journeyman utility Bryce Hegarty will start at fullback after impressing the NSW coaching staff this season, while Gibson has been forced to dig deep into his halfback stocks.
Jake Gordon has been ruled out with concussion and joins Nick Phipps on the sidelines, meaning a start for Mitch Short at No.9 and a spot on the bench for Mick Snowden.
The news is brighter up front, with Test prop Sekope Kepu named to make his first start of the season and lock Rob Simmons also returning after missing the 38-28 loss to the Jaguares in Buenos Aires.
Alex Newsome, Tom Staniforth and Paddy Ryan have been dropped to the bench as the Waratahs chase their second win of the season against the unbeaten men from Melbourne.
Meanwhile, Rebels coach Dave Wessels welcomes back captain Adam Coleman from sternum soreness as one of four changes to his 23 man squad.
Coleman’s return sees Ross Haylett-Petty shifted to the backrow and Angus Cottrell miss out while flying winger Marika Koroibete replaces fellow Wallaby Sefa Naivalu on the left flank.
Hooker Jordan Uelese is out with a minor hamstring injury, meaning a first Rebels start for Anaru Rangi and a potential debut for 19-year-old rake Mahe Vailanu.
The Waratahs remain a frustrating enigma to watch. On their day they are brilliant. But the difference between their best and worst is massive and the Rebels possess the momentum required to upset NSW if the hosts are unable to aim up defensively like last week.
With that said, the battle between Will Genia and Bernard Foley in particular will likely dictate who wins today.
Waratahs by 7