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Coming off a bye, the Rebels are looking for their second win when they play the Highlanders in Melbourne. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog from 7:45pm AEDT.
The Victorians began their season on a winning note against the Brumbies two weeks ago, but had a momentum-killing week off for round two. The Highlanders won their first two games; a narrow win in Hamilton and edging out the Reds last weekend.
These two sides played in the final round of 2018, when the men from Otago ended the Melbournians’ season with a 43-37 win. 2017’s clash had the Highlanders winning by 51-12, and in the previous year, the Rebels went tryless, 27-3.
The Highlanders didn’t look incredibly convincing against a Reds team that pushed them right to the end, but Aaron Smith was good across the park, and with his resting, Kayne Hammington will have big shoes to fill.
In team news: both Aaron and Ben Smith will be rested, Josh Ioane drops from 10 to 15, Bryn Gatland slots into flyhalf, Hammington takes over 9, bringing debutant Folau Fakatava onto the bench and Rob Thompson’s injury sees Thomas Umaga-Jensen into 13.
The Rebels minimise changes: Brad Wilkin comes in for Richard Hardwick and Sam Talakai replaces Jermaine Ainsley.
With the forced resting of their All Black players, the Rebels actually start favourites – a rare occurrence in trans-Tasman clashes that the Kiwi team aren’t underdogs.
Highlanders to win, but it won’t be a thrashing. If Genia has a big say, ‘Landers could be vulnerable.
Highlanders by 8.
Time: 7:45pm AEDT.
Venue: AAMI Park.
Referee: AJ Jacobs.
Odds: Rebels $1.75, Highlanders $2.08.
1. Tetra Faulkner, 2. Anaru Rangi, 3. Sam Talakai, 4. Luke Jones, 5. Matt Philip, 6. Angus Cottrell, 7. Brad Wilkin, 8. Isi Naisarani, 9. Will Genia, 10. Quade Cooper, 11. Marika Koroibete, 12. Billy Meakes, 13. Tom English, 14. Jack Maddocks, 15. Dane Haylett-Petty.
Bench: 16. Robbie Abel, 17. Matt Gibbon, 18. Jermain Ainsley, 19. Adam Coleman, 20. Richard Hardwick, 21. Rob Leota, 22. Michael Ruru, 23. Reece Hodge.
1. Daniel Lienert-Brown, 2. Ash Dixon (c), 3. Siate Tokolahi, 4. Jackson Hemopo, 5. Pari Pari Parkinson, 6. Shannon Frizell, 7. Jimmy Lentjes, 8. Elliot Dixon, 9. Kayne Hammington, 10. Bryn Gatland, 11. Josh McKay, 12. Teihorangi Walden, 13. Thomas Umaga-Jensen, 14. Waisake Naholo, 15. Josh Ioane.
Bench: 16. Ricky Jackson, 17. Ayden Johnstone, 18. Josh Iosefa-Scott, 19. Tom Franklin, 20. Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, 21. Folau Fakatava, 22. Patelesio Tomkinson, 23. Marty Banks.