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The Reds host the Brumbies Saturday evening at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting from 7:45pm (AEST).
The Reds are on a roll. They rolled the Rebels comfortably last week, which was somewhat unexpected. What was also unexpected was that the Brumbies were a breath away from losing to the bottom-feeder Waratahs. So today, it looks like the Brumbies are staring down the barrel of a gun.
Last week, the Reds had their best game since the days of Ewen McKenzie. Before last week, many of their matches this season were narrowly won. Last week, they kept the Rebels on the back foot. They took advantage of errors. They positioned their forwards, especially their traditionally more ‘stodgy’ backrowers, to be more dynamic.
The Brumbies’ backrowers have been dynamic under Dan McKellar’s tutelage. Their goal, ostensibly, is to facilitate a lot of points. It is quite common so far for them to score over 30 points per match. They failed to do that last week, primarily due to the distinct lack of possession.
Despite their subpar results, McKellar retained most of last week’s players. A notable change is the reintroduction of the Brumbies captain Allan Alaalatoa, who will scrummage against Wallaby-mate Taniela Tupou. His forwards, along with most of his backline, will compete not only for the win – they are vying for Wallaby selection.
Brad Thorn is rolling in the same players as last week. They feel good. They smell blood. They have seen the Waratahs corner the Brumbies’ attackers, and probably think they can do a better job.
There are great match-ups across the park, almost without exception. The one I will be looking out for, are the ‘special forces’ or backrow and the halves. The strength and style of both teams are different at these positions and will be pivotal to this game’s results. The other is the scrum.
The last time the Brumbies visited Suncorp Stadium, they were handsomely defeated by the Queenslanders. I would not hazard to predict a similar result today. But the Reds are playing well. The Brumbies have not won in Brisbane since 2014.
So unless either side’s set-piece falls apart, it will be close. I think however, the Brumbies see this match as a must-win and have a good chance to clinch it against the odds.
Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting from 7:45pm (AEST).
Kick-off: 7:45pm (AEST)
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
TV: Channel Nine
Live stream: Stan Sport
Betting: Reds $1.75, Brumbies $2.08 (odds via PlayUp)
Bryce Hegarty, Jordan Petaia, Hunter Paisami, Hamish Stewart, Jock Campbell, James O’Connor (captain), Tate McDermott, Harry Wilson, Fraser McReight, Angus Scott-Young, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Ryan Smith, Taniela Tupou, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Feao Fotuaika
Reserves: Alex Mafi, Richie Asiata, Zane Nonggorr, Seru Uru, Liam Wright, Kalani Thomas, Josh Flook, Filipo Daugunu
Tom Banks, Andy Muirhead, Len Ikitau, Irae Simone, Tom Wright, Noah Lolesio, Nic White, Pete Samu, Tom Cusack, Rob Valetini, Cadeyrn Neville, Darcy Swain, Allan Alaalatoa (captain), Folau Fainga’a, James Slipper
Reserves: Lachlan Lonergan, Scott Sio, Sefo Kautai, Nick Frost, James Tucker, Ryan Lonergan, Bayley Kuenzle, Mack Hansen