rugby.com.au previews ALL three Australian Super Rugby matches ahead of round 12.
Melbourne Rebels vs Brumbies
The winner of this blockbuster Australian derby will be top of the Australian conference, at least until the Waratahs play, while the loser will face an uphill battle to secure a Super Rugby finals spot.
• Brumbies have won seven of the sides’ past 10 meetings, including three of their last five.
• The Brumbies have won their last three away games against Australian teams
• The Rebels clinched their first Canberra victory in the sides’ most recent clash
• The Melbourne Rebels have welcomed back Mike Harris and Tom English while the Colby Fainga’a’s impressive form of late sees him starting ahead of Jordy Reid.
• The Brumbies are missing key backs Matt Toomua, Joe Tomane, Henry Speight and Robbie Coleman giving U20s star Jordan Jackson-Hope the opportunity to earn his Super Rugby debut
Where the game will be won
It’s a mouthwatering encounter between two of Australia’s top backrowers. The battle of Sean McMahon and David Pocock will be vital and it’s one Michael Cheika will be eager to witness ahead of the June Test series.
Melbourne Rebels: Mike Harris, Sefa Naivalu, Tamati Ellison, Reece Hodge, Cam Crawford, Jack Debreczeni, Nic Stirzaker (c), Adam Thomson, Sean McMahon, Colby Fainga’a, Lopeti Timani, Luke Jones, Jamie Hagan, James Hanson, Toby Smith
Reserves: Pat Leafa, Cruze Ah Nau, Tim Metcher, Sam Jeffries, Jordy Reid, Ben Meehan, Tom English, Kotaro Matsushima
Brumbies: Aidan Tou, Nigel Ah Wong, Tevita Kuridrani, James Dargaville, Lausii Taliauli, Christian Lealiifano (co-captain), Tomas Cubelli, Jarrad Butler, David Pocock, Scott Fardy, Sam Carter, Rory Arnold, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore (co-captain), Scott Sio.
Reserves: Josh Mann-Rea, Allan Alaalatoa, Ruan Smith, Tom Staniforth, Blake Enever, Jordan Smiler, Joe Powell, Jordan Jackson-Hope
Hurricanes vs Reds
The odds were stacked against the Reds earlier this week until the Hurricanes came out and suspended five players for breaking curfew in South Africa. Ardie Savea, Julian Savea, Victor Vito, Cory Jane and Chris Eves will all miss, giving the Reds the opportunity to secure their first win on the road this season.
• The Hurricanes have won 11 of the last 13 matches against the Reds, averaging 30 points per game
• As listed above the Hurricanes are missing three All Blacks and a one of the in-form players of the competition in Ardie Savea. The Hurricanes depth will be tested.
• Karmichael Hunt has been ruled out with a groin injury giving Japanese superstar Ayumu Goromaru the opportunity to start. Replacement hooker Saia Fainga’a will miss an extended period with a foot injury.
Where the game will be won
The set piece contest is going to be massive. The Reds and Hurricanes are the only two teams to have success rates above 90 per cent at both scrum and lineouts this season. Whoever can get on top there will have a good chance of winning.
Hurricanes: James Marshall, Jason Woodward, Matt Proctor, Vince Aso, Wes Goosen, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Blade Thomson, Callum Gibbins, Brad Shields, Michael Fatialofa, Vaea Fifita, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Dane Coles (c), Reggie Goodes
Reserves: Motu Matu’u, Lonu Uhila, Ben May, Mark Abbott, Tony Lamborn, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Ngani Laumape, Willis Halaholo
Reds: Ayumu Goromaru, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Campbell Magnay, Anthony Fainga’a, Eto Nabuli, Jake McIntyre, Nick Frisby, Curtis Browning, Liam Gill, Hendrik Tui, Rob Simmons, Ben Matwijow, Greg Holmes, Andrew Ready, James Slipper (c)
Reserves: Matt Mafi, Sef Fa’agase, Sam Talakai, Cadeyrn Neville, Michael Gunn, James Tuttle, Duncan Paia’aua, Junior Laloifi
Waratahs vs Bulls
The Waratahs are starting to hit their straps having won their last their three matches, while the Bulls have enjoyed a solid Australian tour with their only slip up last week against the Brumbies.
• The Bulls have won eight of their last nine clashes against the Waratahs, but it was the ‘Tahs who won their last encounter in 2014.
• The Waratahs have named the same starting side in consecutive weeks for the first time this season. Last week’s debutant Ned Hanigan gets another shot via the bench after Jack Dempsey struggled to overcome injury in time.
• The Bulls have made numerous changes that went down to the Brumbies bringing in Lock Jason Jenkins, winger Jamba Ulengo, flanker Jannes Kirsten, halfback Rudy Paige, five-eighth Tian Schoeman and prop Lizo Gqoboka all named to start on Saturday.
Where the match will be won
The lineout. It’s been a weakness of the Waratahs this season but they showed improvement against the Cheetahs, winning ball but not being able to turn it into a score. The Bulls maul like nobody’s business and if they dominate at set piece time, the Waratahs should be shaking in their boots.
Waratahs: Andrew Kellaway, Reece Robinson, Israel Folau, Kurtley Beale, Rob Horne, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps, Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper (c), Dean Mumm, Will Skelton, Dave Dennis, Tom Robertson, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Paddy Ryan
Reserves: Hugh Roach, Jeremy Tilse, Angus Ta’avao, Sam Lousi, Ned Hanigan, Matt Lucas, David Horwitz, Matt Carraro
Bulls: SP Marais, Jamba Ulengo, Jesse Kriel, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Tian Schoeman, Rudy Paige, Hanro Liebenberg, Jannes Kirsten, Lappies Labuschagne, RG Snyman, Jason Jenkins, Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss (c), Lizo Gqoboka
Reserves: Jaco Visagie, Trevor Nyakane, Pierre Schoeman, Marvin Orie, Roelof Smit, Piet van Zyl, Francois Brummer, Dries Swanepoel.