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The Melbourne Rebels will look to secure their hold at the top of the Australian conference when they host an up-and-down Stormers outfit at AAMI Park in more Friday night Super Rugby action. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the game from 7:45pm AEDT.
The Stormers have been average this season.
They have 11 tries in seven games (the worst record of any side), and sit dead last in the South African conference.
They were poor against the Reds – and more generally have had a miserable time of things on their tour of Oceania.
Their biggest issue is their inability to finish close to the line. The lead-up work isn’t the problem, rather they seem to have a nasty habit of fumbling last passes, and dropping ball in try-scoring situations.
Damian De Allende needs to go back to running straight and dominating the contact zone to allow his outside backs an extra half a second of room with the front foot ball that would generate.
He found himself throwing cut outs, and cross kicking last start against the Reds, which ultimately came back to bite.
It gets worse, though. Skipper Siya Kolisi is rested (rotation policy), and this is a major blow. Aside from his inspirational captaincy, he has been their best forward this year, and the team looked totally directionless when he spent ten minutes in the sin bin last week. And I mean totally.
It’s a new look front row, too, with Stephen Kitchoff getting a nod, alongside Wilco Louw and Bongi Mbonmbi.
For the home team, it’s a “more of the same, please” type of situation, following a couple of impressive wins in Australia. They sit well clear of the Tahs on top of the Australian conference, and will be keen to win their third straight.
In team news, they will be without Jack Maddocks, Matt Phillip and Anaru Rangi – all resting with niggles. Semisi Tupou comes onto one wing, and that may be an avenue where the Stormers may direct some traffic through. We shall see.
Which Stormers side turns up? We’ve seen patches of real defensive tenacity from the South African outfit, which often puts a little band-aid over their attacking woes.
I don’t think they’ll be scoring a boatload of points, so they’ll need the new guys starting to step up and show some abrasion in and around the breakdown and contact zone.
Am I confident this will be a tour-turning win against a fired-up Rebels side?
The Stormers to start brightly, but fade.
Rebels by 15
Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting from 7:45pm AEDT.
Where: AAMI Park – Melbourne Stadium
When: 7:45pm AEDT
Betting Odds: Rebels $1.22, Stormers $4.00