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Coming off a vastly improved performance against the Brumbies, the promising Waratahs’ next challenge is to knock over a Melbourne Rebels team who is desperate for a win. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog from 7:05pm (AEST).
The Waratahs lost to the Reds to kick off the competition, but a win against the Force got them back on an even keel. The ship was rocked by the loss to the Brumbies last weekend – a game they’ll be disappointed to have lost, given they were leading for much of it.
It’s almost crunch time for them. Sure they’re third in Super Rugby AU, but after this round will have played one more game than every other team, and with the Force finding their feet, the Tahs need to win to just stay in the hunt. Last weekend showed they can compete with the Brumbies, now it’s just about finding the Ws.
The Rebels have had it tough; not been at home since before the comp started, and it looks increasingly unlikely they’ll return to Melbourne before the tournament wraps up. They’re fourth on the ladder, behind the Brumbies, who they struggle to win against, and the Reds, who are no pushovers.
Tonight they play a very beatable Waratahs team, albeit one which would be buoyed by recent improvement.
The Tahs showed a lot more punch against the Brumbies, a much better ability to convert opportunities into points, and came so close to knocking over the Canberrans. The Rebels have the benefit of the week off, but the Tahs are in a bit of form.
In team news, Jake Gordon returns for the hosts after a hamstring injury. He’ll feature off the bench along with Joe Cotton, Chris Talakai and Jed Holloway.
Reece Hodge slides back into the starting XV for Melbourne, a good call for mine. Campbell Magnay pulled up sore this week, sparking the change.
Cameron Orr runs on at loosehead, and Trevor Hosea will wear no.5, alongside Matt Philip.
It’ll be close and could go either way. The Rebels will either come out firing after the week off, or will be rusty. Ultimately I’m tipping the Waratahs at home.
NSW by 11.
TV: Fox Sports
Live stream: Kayo Sports, Foxtel
Referee: Angus Gardner
Odds: Waratahs $1.72, Rebels $2.08
1. Tom Robertson, 2. Tom Horton, 3. Harry Johnson-Holmes, 4. Ned Hanigan, 5. Rob Simmons (C), 6. Lachlan Swinton, 7. Michael Hooper, 8. Jack Dempsey, 9. Mitch Short, 10. Will Harrison, 11. Alex Newsome (VC), 12. Karmichael Hunt, 13. Joey Walton, 14. James Ramm, 15. Jack Maddocks
Bench: 16. Joseph Cotton, 17. Tetera Faulkner, 18. Chris Talakai, 19. Tom Staniforth, 20. Jed Holloway, 21. Jake Gordon, 22. Mark Nawaqanitawase, 23. Ben Donaldson
1. Cameron Orr, 2. Jordan Uelese, 3. Pone Fa’amausili, 4. Matt Philip, 5. Trevor Hosea, 6. Josh Kemeny, 7. Richard Hardwick, 8. Michael Wells, 9. Ryan Louwrens, 10. Matt To’omua, 11. Marika Koroibete, 12. Bill Meakes, 13. Reece Hodge, 14. Andrew Kellaway, 15. Dane Haylett-Petty
Bench: 16. Efi Ma’afu, 17. Matt Gibbon, 18. Jermaine Ainsley, 19. Michael Stolberg, 20. Esei Haangana, 21. Rob Leota, 22. Frank Lomani, 23. Andrew Deegan