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The Brumbies and Rebels, Super Rugby AU’s frontrunners, meet on Saturday night at GIO Stadium in Canberra for the second and final game of Round 1. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog from 7:15pm (AEST).
It’s an important game. Sure, every match in a ten-week competition means a lot more, but with these two sides shaping up as the favourites, who gets the points tonight could prove critical in the back end of the competition.
First the Brumbies. Five wins and a loss had them well out in front of the Super Rugby ladder prior to lockdown with 23 points, leading the Rebels by ten. Overall they held down second place ahead of teams like the Crusaders and Blues while marginally trailing the Sharks.
The Rebels won three, lost three and were on track to just fall short of the eight. Both them and the Reds sat on 13 points, although the Melbournians led on for-and-against with a game in hand.
The biggest challenge for the Brumbies is retaining the form that saw them beat a then-competitive Chiefs team while thrashing the Sunwolves and Waratahs in successive weeks. Whether or not they can do this will decide the season. A firing Brumbies team will go unmatched in this competition.
The Rebels lost two consecutive games to start the year, including a 39-26 defeat to the Brumbies, but recovered with victories over the Highlanders and Lions. Their last game was on 7 March, eight days before the Brumbies’ most recent outing.
Their build-up has been disrupted as well, with COVID-19 striking their hometown of Melbourne the hardest. As a result they’ve relocated to Canberra, so not only will they have to adjust to life in another town, but they’re also relinquishing all their home games in the near future as well.
In team news rookie Mack Hansen will run out at 15 for the Brumbies with just four minutes of Super Rugby experience. The four-month break hasn’t rid the Canberrans of all injuries either, with both Ryan Lonergan and Solomona Kata sitting this one out with ankle and hamstring issues respectively.
Former Force gun Issak Fines will come on off the bench.
The Rebels have four debutants. Jordan Uelese takes over from Anaru Rangi, whose knee injury will cost him. Josh Kemeny starts at No. 6. Matt To’omua takes the reins at five-eighth.
This one is up in the air, the two favourites for Super Rugby AU both have cases as to why they will win. But you’d expect the Brumbies to outlast the Melbourne team.
Brumbies by 12.
Join The Roar for live scores and a blog from 7:15pm (AEST).
Venue: GIO Stadium
Time: 7:15pm (AEST)
Referee: Angus Gardner
Odds: Brumbies $1.29, Rebels $3.63.
James Slipper, Folau Fainga’a, Allan Alaalatoa (c), Darcy Swain, Murray Douglas, Rob Valetini, Tom Cusack, Pete Samu, Joe Powell, Noah Lolesio, Tom Wright, Irae Simone, Tevita Kuridrani, Andy Muirhead, Mack Hansen.
Connal McInerney, Scott Sio, Tom Ross, Lachlan McCaffrey, Will Miller, Issak Fines, Bayley Kuenzle, Len Ikitau.
Matt Gibbon, Jordan Uelese, Pone Fa’amausili, Matt Philip, Michael Stolberg, Josh Kemeny, Richard Hardwick, Michael Wells (VC), Ryan Louwrens, Matt To’omua (VC), Marika Koroibete, Billy Meakes, Reece Hodge, Andrew Kellaway, Dane Haylett-Petty (c).
Efitusi Maafu, Cameron Orr, Jermaine Ainsley, Trevor Hosea, Esei Haangana, Rob Leota, Frank Lomani, Andrew Deegan.