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The Queensland Reds take on the Melbourne Rebels in Saturday’s Super Rugby AU playoff at Suncorp Stadium. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting from 7:15 pm (AEST).
The Reds, buoyed by a commanding victory over the table-topping Brumbies, will be looking to continue their inspired form at home on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Rebels – having narrowly avoided an upset against the Force last week – have been granted a historic first ever finals appearance and will endeavour to upset the Queenslanders on their home turf.
In recent matches, the Reds have demonstrated a superb defensive ability to the point where you can safely regard them as the best defensive team in the competition.
Therefore, coming into the grand final qualifier, the key for the Rebels is finding a way to break through the Reds’ almost impenetrable defence.
For the Rebels to be successful, they will need to rely on their in-form playmaker Matt To’omua. His ability to lead has been outstanding in recent matches and he is a big reason the Rebels have achieved their historic finals berth.
However, he is just one cog in Dave Wessels’ Rebels outfit and if they are to come out victorious on Saturday, To’omua will need to rally his troops.
Wessels has answered the defensive problems the Reds pose by emulating it, picking two openside flankers of his own in Brad Wilkin and Richard Hardwick.
James Tuttle, having sustained an injury last week, has been ruled out and will be replaced by Fijian international Frank Lomani, with Theo Strang covering the halfback position on the bench. Also, Andrew Kellaway replaces Tom Pincus on the wing.
Reds coach Brad Thorn has named an unchanged starting XV from last week’s dominant victory over the Brumbies.
On the bench, Alex Mafi will assume the replacement hooker role after returning from injury and Jack Straker replaces fellow tighthead Ruan Smith as replacement front row.
The Reds-Rebels contest is shaping up to be a thriller. Once the dust settles, we will have our grand final team to take on the Brumbies next week. With the support of the local fans, helped by their almost impenetrable defence and buoyed by a Brumbies demolition last week, I envisage the Reds taking the win.
Reds by six.
Kick-off: 7:15pm (AEST)
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
TV: Fox Sports
Live stream: Kayo Sports, Foxtel
Referee: Nic Berry
Odds: Reds $1.32, Rebels $3.50
1. Harry Hoopert, 2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 3. Taniela Tupou, 4. Angus Blyth, 5. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 6. Liam Wright (c), 7. Fraser McReight, 8. Harry Wilson, 9. Tate McDermott, 10. James O’Connor, 11. Filipo Daugunu, 12. Hamish Stewart, 13. Jordan Petaia, 14. Chris Feauai-Sautia, 15. Jock Campbell
Bench: 16. Alex Mafi, 17. JP Smith, 18. Jack Straker, 19. Tuaina Taii Tualima, 20. Angus Scott-Young, 21. Moses Sorovi, 22. Bryce Hegarty, 23. Hunter Paisami
1. Cameron Orr, 2. Jordan Uelese, 3. Jermaine Ainsley, 4. Matt Philip, 5. Trevor Hosea, 6. Brad Wilkin, 7. Richard Hardwick, 8. Isi Naisarani, 9. Frank Lomani, 10. Matt To’omua, 11. Marika Koroibete, 12. Bill Meakes, 13. Reece Hodge, 14. Andrew Kellaway, 15. Dane Haylett-Petty (c)
Bench: 16. Efitusi Maafu, 17. Cabous Eloff, 18. Matt Gibbon, 19. Michael Stolberg, 20. Rob Leota, 21. Theo Strang, 22. Andrew Deegan, 23. Campbell Magnay