Super Rugby Preview: Round 15

Super Rugby
Matt Lewis Profile
by Matt Lewis

Super Rugby is back after a month off and with just three rounds remaining of the regular season teams are battling it out for a finals spot.

Two Australian teams can still qualify for the finals, but they will need to be at the top of their game. Both the Brumbies and Waratahs sit on 34 points, with the Brumbies on top after having won more games.

Brumbies vs Reds

The Brumbies have the Waratahs hot on their heels and know the importance of a victory while the Reds are blooding some new young talent to wrap up the season.

Key stats

The Brumbies have won their last three games against the Reds

If the Brumbies win, it will be the first time they’ve recorded four straight wins since Round 6, 2014.

Reds backrower Hendrik Tui leads the all Australian Super Rugby franchise players for lineout steals this season, with five.

Key changes

In the month prior to the June Test window the Brumbies had a bye and won all three matches. They will need to this form to continue if they can hold onto top spot. Stephen Larkham’s men have been hurt by the injury to David Pocock but the return of Matt Toomua will be a welcomed addition to the side after his impressive performance for the Wallabies last week.

Injuries have hit the Reds hard with likes of Wallabies squad members Karmichael Hunt and Rob Simmons unavailable. On a positive note Kane Douglas returns after eight months on the sidelines, Leroy Houston makes his Super Rugby return via the bench and YouTube sensation Taniela Tupou will make his Super Rugby debut via the bench. Jack Tuttle will also debut at fullback in the absence of Hunt.

Matt Toomua returns for the Brumbies for the first time since round 11. Photo: Getty Imagess

Where the match will be won

While it can easily be said that the forwards win you matches, the Reds will need to be careful of the Brumbies classy backline. Christian Lealiifano and Matt Toomua are reunited for first time since round 11 and will be a dangerous pairing against a young Reds backline.

BRUMBIES: Aidan Toua, Nigel Ah Wong, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Toomua, James Dargaville, Christian Lealiifano (c), Joe Powell, Ben Hyne, Jarrad Butler, Scott Fardy, Sam Carter, Rory Arnold, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore (c), Scott Sio

Reserves: Josh Mann-Rea, Allan Alaalatoa, Ruan Smith, Blake Enever, Michael Wells, Tomás Cubelli, Andrew Smith, Lausii Taliauli

REDS: Jack Tuttle, Chris Kuridrani, Samu Kerevi, Henry Taefu, Eto Nabuli, Jake McIntyre, Nick Frisby, Curtis Browning, Liam Gill, Hendrik Tui, Lukhan Tui, Caderyn Neville, Greg Holmes, Andrew Ready, James Slipper (c)

Reserves: Saia Fainga’a, Sef Fa’agase, Taniela Tupou, Kane Douglas, Leroy Houston, James Tuttle, Duncan Paia’aua, Campbell Magnay

Sunwolves vs Waratahs

The Waratahs are set for their first match in Japan when they take on the Sunvolves on Saturday.

Key Stats

The Waratahs have won three of their last four games on the road

Israel Folau is the only Super Rugby player to have recorded over 1000 run metres this season

The Sunwolves have conceded 101 points in their last two games, both of which were Australian opposition.

Key changes

Zac Guildford has left the Waratahs opening up for the return of Taqele Naiyaravoro on the wing. Matt Lucas has been named to start at scrumhalf with Nick Phipps on the bench, while Dave Dennis has shifted to number eight with the return of Jack Dempsey.

The Sunwolves have struggled of late and will have to do it without two of their most attacking weapons. Flyhalf Tusi Pisi is unavailable as well as Super Rugby leading try scorer Akihito Yamada.

Matt Lucas has been named to start for the second time in his career. Photo: Getty Images

Where the match will be won

The firepower the Waratahs have out wide will be too much for the Sunwolves, with the likes of Israel Folau, Taqele Naiyaravoro and Reece Robinson all destructive with the ball in hand.

SUNWOLVES: Riaan Viljoen, Mifiposeti Paea, Derek Carpenter, Harumichi Tatekawa, Yasutaka Sasakura, Yu Tamura, Kaito Shigeno, Ed Quick, Taiyo Ando, Liaki Moli, Naohiro Kotaki, Faatiga Lemalu, Shinnosuke Kakinaga, Takeshi Kizu, Masataka Mikami

Reserves: Futoshi Mori, Keita Inagaki, Takuma Asahara, Yoshiya Hosoda, Shokel Kin, Yuki Yatomi, Ryohei Yamanaka, Hajime Yamashita

WARATAHS: Andrew Kellaway, Reece Robinson, Israel Folau, Rob Horne, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Bernard Foley, Matt Lucas, Dave Dennis, Michael Hooper, Jack Dempsey, Will Skelton, Dean Mumm, Tom Robertson, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Paddy Ryan

Reserves (two to be omitted): Hugh Roach, Jeremy Tilse, Angus Ta’avao, Sam Lousi, Wycliff Palu, Ned Hanigan, Nick Phipps, Dave Horwitz, Tolu Latu, Matt Carraro

Rebels vs Stormers

Foundation Rebel Luke Jones will run out for his last home game before moving to France to join the Bordeaux Beagles. The Stormers currently sit on top of their conference and will be looking to notch up an important win on the road.

Key stats

The Stormers have won three of their four matches against the Rebels

The Stormers have won their last two games in Australia

Key changes

Captain Nick Stirzaker injured his ankle at training on Tuesday making him unavailable for the Rebels clash. Ben Meehan has been named in the number nine jersey, and young Wallaby Sean McMahon will lead the side in Stirzaker’s absence. Jonah Placid has been named on the wing with Sefa Naivalu shifting to outside centre.

Stormers utility Jaco Taute has been named at fullback for his first game of the season since injuring his knee in the preseason, while Schalk Burger has been named at number eight and captain of the side. In the only other change, Vincent Koch has been named at tighthead for the injured Frans Malherbe.

Ben Meehan replaces injured Rebels captain Nic Stirzaker. Photo: Getty Images

Where the game will be won

The Rebels cane expect a forwards dominated game against the Stormers. The Stormers set piece will be on song with the likes of Pieter-Steph du Toit and Eben Etzebeth strong at the line out and while past his prime Schalk Burger is still a force to reckon with.

REBELS: Mike Harris, Jonah Placid, Sefa Naivalu, Reece Hodge, Tom English, Jack Debreczeni, Ben Meehan, Colby Fainga’a, Sean McMahon (c), Jordy Reid, Lopeti Timani, Luke Jones, Toby Smith, James Hanson, Cruze Ah Nau.

Reserves: Pat Leafa, Tom Moloney, Laurie Weeks, Culum Retallick, Adam Thomson, Mick Snowden, Mitch Inman, Paul Asquith

STORMERS: Jaco Taute, Kobus van Wyk, Daniel du Plessis, Damian de Allende, Leolin Zas, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Nic Groom, Schalk Burger (c), Siya Kolisi, Nizaam Carr, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Vincent Koch, Bongi Mbonambi, Oli Kebble

Reserves: Scarra Ntubeni, Alistair Vermaak, JP Smith, JD Schickerling, Rynhardt Elstadt, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Louis Schreuder, Scott van Breda

Cheetahs vs Force

The Force have a new coach in Dave Wessels for the last three matches of year as they look to wrap up what has been a disastrous season for the West Australian based side. The Force head to Bloemfontein to take on the Cheetahs on Saturday.

Key stats

The Cheetahs have won their last two home games by a combined total of 89 points

The Force have only won one of their last nine games in South Africa

The Force have the best goal kicking conversion rate (90%) in the competition

Key Changes

Jono Lance headlines the inclusions for Western Force having missed the last 14 weeks with a pectoral injury, while Tetera Faulkner will start at tighthead and Angus Cottrell has been named at number eight for the injured Ben McCalman. Ian Prior will start at his preferred position of scrumhalf and Junior Rasolea has been named at outside centre.

The Cheetahs have made two changes to their starting side with Ox Nche replacing Charles Marais at loosehead prop and Carl Wegner replacing the injured Lood de Jager at lock.

Tetera Faulkner has been recalled to the Force starting XV. Photo: Getty Images

Where the game will be won

With the Cheetahs have won their last two home games by a total of 89 points, it shows the strikepower they have in the backline. The Force forwards will need to be wary of this and look to slow the ball down. Dane Haylett-Petty, Adam Coleman and Luke Morahan will be full of confidence having just returned from the Wallabies squad.

CHEETAHS: Clayton Blommetjies, Sergeal Petersen, Francois Venter (C), Michael van der Spuy, Raymond Rhule, Fred Zeilinga, Tian Meyer, Uzair Cassiem, Oupa Mohoje, Paul Schoeman, Francois Uys (VC), Carl Wegner, Marks van Dyk, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Ox Nche

Reserves: Joseph Dweba, Luan de Bruin, Johan Coetzee, Reniel Hugo, Henco Venter, Shuan Venter, George Whitehead, William Small-Smith

FORCE: Dane Haylett-Petty, Luke Morahan, Solomoni Rasolea, Kyle Godwin, Marcel Brache, Jono Lance, Ian Prior, Angus Cottrell, Chris Alcock, Byrnard Stander, Adam Coleman, Ross Haylett-Petty, Tetera Faulkner, Harry Scoble, Pek Cowan (C)

Reserves: Anaru Rangi, Francois van Wyk, Guy Millar, Rory Walton, Richard Hardwick, Ryan Louwrens, Peter Grant, Semisi Masirewa