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The NSW Waratahs welcome the Melbourne Rebels to Sydney as the regular season comes to an end and both sides have a lot on the line. This match promises to be a tense affair with so much at stake. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of what promises to be a thrilling match starting from 7:40pm (AEST).
It’s not just the players who will be feeling the pressure. Rebels’ Coach Dave Wessels knows that if his team stumble at this hurdle then their Super Rugby AU season will have been a failure and another contract will become more unlikely.
He’ll have some but not all of his first team talent at his disposal for this crucial game. Isi Naisarani will start at no.8 after a frustrating season impacted by knee surgery and the big back rower has vowed to have a big game. He’s expected to leave Australia at the end of the season as big money tempts him overseas and so look to him for an impressive performance.
Under-20 Wallabies flanker Brad Wilkin will join Naisarani in the forwards as will Ross Haylett-Petty, who replaces the suspended Trevor Hosea.
Unfortunately, captain Dane Haylett-Petty hasn’t recovered well enough from recent concussions and he’ll be missed.
The Rebels have struggled to find a consistent attacking rhythm this season and, while the Tahs have been awful for most of their games, they aren’t going to lie down. The Rebels are going to need to play well to win this one.
The season is already a disaster for the Waratahs but if they can pick up a win in the final round then there is the tiniest silver lining around the storm clouds over Sydney.
They have named an unchanged side from the one that narrowly missed out against the Force in the last round and plenty of eyes will be on fly half Ben Donaldson. The youngster had a good outing last week and looked at home at Super Rugby level. His partnership with Jake Gordon will be important – if they can click then they could put the Rebels under some challenging pressure.
But the important battle will be up front. Neither side has a competition leading pack but both will be fighting hard to get their team on the front foot. The Tahs back row of Lachlan Swinton, Carlo Tizzano and Will Harris have been impressive at times and as individuals at points this season – can they put together a whole match together of top level performance?
This could be a very nervy game. The Tahs’ demons have been clear for all to see and they have a chance to ruin the Rebels’ season. Meanwhile the Melbourne team have shown over the years that they know how to trip over the final hurdle. The Rebels are the bookies favourites but there’s something in the air…..
Tahs by 3.
Kick-off: 7:45pm (AEST)
Venue: Bankwest Stadium, Sydney
Live stream: Nine, Stan Sport
Betting: Rebels $1.33, Waratahs $3.30 (odds via PlayUp)
1-15: Angus Bell, Dave Porecki, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Hugh Sinclair, Max Douglas, Lachlan Swinton, Carlo Tizzano, Will Harris, Jake Gordon (c), Ben Donaldson, James Ramm, Lalakai Foketi, Izaia Perese, Alex Newsome, Jack Maddocks
Bench: Joe Cotton, Tetera Faulkner, Darcy Breen, Jeremy Williams, Michael Wood, Charlie Gamble, Jack Grant, Tane Edmed
1-15: Cameron Orr, Jordan Uelese, Cabous Eloff, Rob Leota, Ross Haylett-Petty, Michael Wells, Brad Wilkin, Isi Naisarani, Joe Powell, Matt To’omua (c), Marika Koroibete, Campbell Magnay, Stacey Ili, Frank Lomani, Tom Pincus
Bench: James Hanson, Matt Gibbon, Pone Fa’amausili, Steve Cummins, Richard Hardwick, Josh Kemeny, Carter Gordon, George Worth