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The Melbourne Rebels face the challenge of taking on the undefeated ACT Brumbies outfit in a blockbuster clash at Leichhardt Oval. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting from 7:05pm (AEST).
The Rebels will be looking to avenge their first-round loss to the Canberrans. A win will also endow Melbourne side with a chance to take the second spot off the Reds, who are only ahead by a single bonus point. Both the Rebels and Brumbies are buoyed by last week’s hard-fought victories.
Historically the Brumbies have won more than half of their games against the Rebels, but they haven’t claimed back-to-back wins in this fixture since 2015.
ACT coach Dan Mckellar has made two changes to the run-on side from last week, with vice-captain Tom Cusack and winger Andy Muirhead returning to the starting XV. Australian under-20s scrumhalf Ryan Lonergan will make his first appearance in the new competition coming off the bench.
Rebels coach Dave Wessels has shifted Matt To’omua to inside centre and given Andrew Deegan the reins at flyhalf. Frank Lomani will start at scrumhalf position Ryan Louwrens, who has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a ruptured bicep.
For the Rebels to emerge victorious, they will need To’omua to continue his exceptional form and dogged defence, which was a highlight of their win against the Force last week.
In past games, the Brumbies have relied on their rolling maul to produce results and no doubt will continue the same strategy tonight. If Melbourne can improve their discipline and counter the Brumbies’ rolling maul, they will go some way to ending the Ponies’ undefeated streak.
The Brumbies have lacked Noah Lolesio’s aggressive attack since losing him to injury, however Bayley Kuenzle has stepped up to the challenge and will be crucial in securing a Brumbies win.
This will be a close, hard-fought match which will ultimately be decided on the basis of defensive efforts and team discipline. While the Rebels have the opportunity to win, the Brumbies’ excellent rolling maul means I’ll be tipping the men from the nation’s capital.
Brumbies by 8.
Kick-off: 7:05pm (AEST)
Venue: Leichhardt Oval
TV: Fox Sports
Live stream: Kayo Sports, Foxtel
Referee: Graham Cooper
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner, Reuben Keane
TMO: George Ayoub
Betting: Brumbies $1.43, Rebels $2.85
1. Cameron Orr, 2. Jordan Uelese, 3. Jermaine Ainsley, 4. Matt Philip, 5. Trevor Hosea, 6. Josh Kemeny, 7. Brad Wilkin, 8. Isi Naisarani, 9. Frank Lomani, 10. Andrew Deegan, 11. Marika Koroibete, 12. Matt To’omua (c), 13. Campbell Magnay 14. Andrew Kellaway, 15. Reece Hodge
Bench: 16. Efitusi Ma’afu, 17. Jacobus Eloff, 18. Vaiilli Fa’amausili, 19. Michael Stolberg, 20. Richard Hardwick, 21. Rob Leota, 22. James Tuttle, 23. Billy Meakes
1. Scott Sio, 2. Folau Fainga’a, 3. Allan Alaalatoa (c), 4. Darcy Swain, 5. Nick Frost, 6. Rob Valetini, 7. Tom Cusack, 8. Pete Samu, 9. Joe Powell, 10. Bayley Kuenzle, 11. Andy Muirhead, 12. Irae Simone, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 14. Solomone Kata, 15. Tom Banks
Bench: 16. Connal McInerney, 17. Harry Lloyd, 18. Tom Ross, 19. Will Miller, 20. Ben Hyne, 21. Ryan Lonergan, 22. Mack Hansen, 23. Len Ikitau