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The race to the Super Rugby finals begins tonight, and the Rebels and the Bulls are looking to retain their places in the top eight, when they clash from AAMI Park. Join The Roar for live scores and the blog from 7:45pm AEST.
It’s on. With all 15 teams still mathematically in the equation, the run home will be tight. For now though, the Rebels and Bulls, ranked sixth and seventh, are looking to improve their positions with wins.
For the Melbournians, they were overtaken by the Brumbies last weekend, but the Canberrans have a bye this round.
The Bulls are largely in the same spot: while the South African conference has been an all-in, the Sharks sit this week out, with the Stormers playing the Crusaders – a perfect opportunity for the visitors.
The Bulls’ other counterparts are in Wellington, playing the Hurricanes, and the Pretoria locals have the biggest chance of all the republic teams.
The hosts have lost all three games against SA clubs this year, whereas the Bulls have victories against the Waratahs and Reds.
Quade Cooper will start at flyhalf for the Rebels, after a concussion forced him to sit out last round’s win over the Reds. Matt Toomua returns to play just three days after arriving from Europe.
Isi Naisarani and Luke Jones are ruled out with toe and eye socket issues respectively, bringing Richard Hardwick to openside, with the backline as per last weekend.
Warrick Gelant subs in for Divan Rossouw while Hanro Liebenberg comes in for Hannes Kirsten.
Paul Schoeman runs out at No.7, with Marco van Staden dropping back to the pine.
This should be a close game, the Rebels haven’t exactly impressed against South African teams, but the Bulls are early in their tour and clubs normally improve as the trips continue.
Rebels by 5.
Join The Roar for live scores and the blog from 7:45pm AEST, in a game which will help decide the conference standings.
Time: 7:45pm AEST.
Venue: AAMI Park.
Referee: Federico Anselmi.
Odds: Rebels $1.39, Bulls $3.
1. Tetera Faulkner, 2. Anaru Rangi, 3. Jermaine Ainsley, 4. Ross Haylett-Petty, 5. Matt Philip, 6. Angus Cottrell, 7. Richard Hardwick, 8. Rob Leota, 9. Will Genia, 10. Quade Cooper, 11. Marika Koroibete, 12. Billy Meakes, 13. Reece Hodge, 14. Jack Maddocks, 15. Dane Haylett-Petty.
Bench: 16. Hugh Roach, 17. Matt Gibbon, 18. Sam Talakai, 19. Sam Jeffries, 20. Pone Fa’amausili, 21. Michael Ruru, 22. Campbell Magnay, 23. Matt Toomua.
1. Lizo Gqoboka, 2. Schalk Brits, 3. Trevor Nyakane, 4. RG Snyman, 5. Jason Jenkins, 6. Paul Schoeman, 7. Hanro Liebenberg, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 9. Andre Warner, 10. Handre Pollard, 11. Rosko Specman, 12. Burger Odendaal, 13. Johnny Kotze, 14. Cornal Hendricks, 15. Warrick Gelant.
Bench: 16. Jaco Visagie, 17. Simphiwe Matanzima, 18. Wiehan Herbst, 19. Jannes Kirsten, 20. Marco van Staden, 21. Embrose Papier, 22. Manie Libbok, 23. Divan Rossouw.