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Coming off a resilient win in Dunedin, the Rebels will want to back it up when they return home to face the Lions. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog from 7:15pm (AEDT).
It’s been an up-and-down start to the year for Melbourne. They dropped their first two matches to Aussie conference opposition in the Sunwolves and Brumbies before bouncing back against NSW. Then they fell afoul of the Sharks’ barnstorming tour, and edged out the Highlanders last weekend.
The next few weeks are make-or-break, with a pair of home games followed by their tour.
The Lions kicked off their Aussie tour last Friday, going down to the Waratahs 29-17. Their only win to date came against the Reds at home back in Round 2. Ivan van Rooyen’s men severely lag behind the SA conference heavyweights; the Jaguares and the resurgent Sharks and Stormers.
They head over to New Zealand after this game and will see it as a must-win to stay in touch with their South African counterparts, given they’re already ten match points behind the closest.
The second half has shown to be a problem for the Johannesburg locals. After being blown out of the water by the Argentines, they lost on the siren to the Stormers, and while they were in the game at 19-10 last week, the Waratahs eventually got home.
In team news, the Rebels have named an unchanged team from the side who upset the Highlanders, marking the first time since 2015 that they’ve done that.
This means Reece Hodge won’t make a comeback, leaving the performing Andrew Kellaway out on the left wing. He slots into a gruelling backline with Billy Meakes, Marika Koroibete and Matt Toomua.
The Lions make three changes to their starting XV, with Pieter Jansen coming in for Jan-Henning Campher in a straight swap to the bench. Willem Alberts slots in for Vincent Tshituka and Wandisile Simelane takes over from Manuel Rass.
Courtnall Skosan returns to the bench.
The Rebels need to win, and the Highlanders victory convinces me that they can. The Lions aren’t much of a team this year, and Melbourne should keep the Lions at bay.
Rebels by 8.
Make sure to join The Roar for live scores and a blog from 7:15pm (AEDT).
Time: 7:15pm (AEDT)
Venue: AAMI Stadium
Referee: James Doleman
TV: Fox Sports
Odds: Rebels $1.55, Lions $2.47
Matt Gibbon, Anaru Rangi, Jermaine Ainsley, Gideon Koegelenberg, Matt Philip, Angus Cottrell (VC), Richard Hardwick, Isi Naisarani, Ryan Louwrens, Matt Toomua (VC), Marika Koroibete, Billy Meakes, Tom English, Andrew Kellaway, Dane Haylett-Petty.
Reserves: Jordan Uelese, Cameron Orr, Cabous Eloff, Ross Haylett-Petty, Rob Leota, Frank Lomani, Michael Wells, Andrew Deegan.
Dylan Smith, Pieter Jansen, Carlu Sadie, Ruben Schoeman, Marvin Orie, Marnus Schoeman, Willem Alberts, Len Massyn, Andre Warner, Elton Jantjies ©, Jamba Ulengo, Daniel Kriel, Wandisile Simelane, Tyrone Green, Andries Coetzee.
Reserves: Jan-Henning Campher, Sithembiso Sithole, Jannie Du Plessis, Wilhelm Vd Sluys, Hacjivah Dayimani, Morne Vd Berg, Shaun Reynolds, Courtnall Skosan.