Super Rugby Preview: Round 14

Super Rugby
Matt Lewis Profile
by Matt Lewis previews all four Australian Super Rugby matches ahead of round 14, kicking off with a must win for the Waratahs.

Waratahs vs Chiefs

The Waratahs suffered a disappointing loss to the Crusaders last weekend after a slow start in tough conditions. The NSW side return home to face the in-form Chiefs at Allianz Stadium in a bid to keep their finals chances alive.

Key stats

The Waratahs have won five of their last six games against the Chiefs.

The Chiefs are the only Super Rugby side to remain undefeated on the road this season, having won all five matches.

Key changes

The Waratahs have made four changes to their starting side with Wycliff Palu replacing Jed Holloway who has been ruled out for the remainder of the season while Zac Guildford and Matt Carraro have been named on the wings pushing Rob Horne to inside centre and David Horwitz and Reece Robinson to the bench.

The Chiefs on the other hand have made just the once change to their side that defeated the Rebels by 20 points last Saturday with backrower Dave Rennie replacing Michael Leitch who has been ruled out with a dislocated thumb.

Where the match will be won

The Chiefs have a very well-rounded side but it’s their backs that can be dangerous when given space. Aaron Cruden is in strong form after recovering from an ACL injury last year while Damian Mckenzie and James Lowe will need to be watched closely if the Waratahs want to nullify the Chiefs.

WARATAHS: Andrew Kellaway, Matt Carraro, Israel Folau, Rob Horne, Zac Guildford, 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, Jack Dempsey, Matt Lucas, David Horwitz, Reece Robinson

CHIEFS: Damian McKenzie, Toni Pulu, Seta Tamanivalu, Anton Lienert-Brown, James Lowe, Aaron Cruden (co-captain), Brad Weber, Tom Sanders, Sam Cane (co-captain), Taleni Seu, Brodie Retallick, Dominic Bird, Hiroshi Yamashita, Nathan Harris, Mitchell Graham

RESERVES: Hika Elliot, Kane Hames, Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, Michael Allardice, Lachlan Boshier, Kayne Hammington, Andrew Horrell, Sam Vaka

 Daryl Gibson has moved Rob Horne to the centres. Photo: Getty Images

Brumbies vs Sunwolves

The Brumbies have a chance to take back the Australian conference lead on Saturday night when they take on the Sunwolves for the first time.

Key stats

David Pocock has won 21 turnovers this season, the most of any player in the competition, eight ahead of Sunwolves’ Andrew Durutalo and Ed Quirk. Sunwolves winger Akihito Yamada still leads the competition with eight tries.

Key changes

The Brumbies have opted to rest Argnetinian scrumhalf Tomas Cubelli, though haven’t made the same move with their Australian International representatives. Michael Dowsett replaces Cubelli in the starting lineup, while Ruan Smith comes on to the front row. The Sunwolves have made eight changes to their team.

Where the game will be won

These sides seem like a mismatch in many areas but the scrum will be a key battleground in Canberra. If the Sunwovles can compete in the set piece they can restrict the Brumbies of the ball. Once the Brumbies backs get their hands on it, they’ll be able to really get on top.

BRUMBIES: Aidan Toua, Nigel Ah Wong, Tevita Kuridrani, Robbie Coleman, James Dargaville, Christian Lealiifano (co-captain), Michael Dowsett, Jarrad Butler, David Pocock, Scott Fardy, Sam Carter, Rory Arnold, Ruan Smith, Stephen Moore (co-captain), Scott Sio

RESERVES: Josh Mann-Rea, Allan Alaalatoa, Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin, Tom Staniforth, Jordan Smiler, Joe Powell, Jordan Jackson-Hope, Lausii Taliauli

SUNWOLVES: Sasakura, Paea, Carpenter, Tatekawa, Yamada, Tamura, Tatomi, Quirk, Durutalo, Moli, Lemalu, Ono, Asahara, Horie, Inagaki

RESERVES: Kizu, Koo, Kakinaga, Hosoda, Ando, Inoue, Pisi, Viljoen

Tomas Cubelli has been rested for the Brumbies clash against the Sunwolves. Photo: Getty Images

Rebels vs Force

The two newest Australian franchises face off as Melbourne cling to their mathematical finals chances. The Force will be looking to end their week on a high against the Rebels, after losing captain Matt Hodgson for the season.

Key stats

Only once in 11 matchups has a Force-Rebels game been decided by more than seven points, meaning even the loser is likely to come away with a point this weekend. The Rebels have lost three games in a row for the first time since 2014, while the Force are searching for their second run of consecutive away wins this season.

Key changes


Where the game will be won

These teams are two of the best at the breakdown and with no Matt Hodgson, the Rebels really need to assert their dominance in that area. Sean McMahon, Colby Fainga’a and Adam Thomson have been in devastating form in recent weeks and if they continue that the Rebels should hog the possession and the points.

Force captain Matt Hodgson has been ruled out for the remainder of the season. Photo: Getty Images