Rebels without key Wallabies for crucial clash
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Melbourne Rebels have made four changes to their starting XV as they aim to secure the franchise’s first-ever Super Rugby finals when they face the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday.
Injuries to fullback Dane Haylett-Petty (knee) and lock Geoff Parling (shoulder) have forced positional and personnel changes from last week’s match against the Reds. Meanwhile, props Fereti Sa’aga and Sam Talakai earn starting spots in the Rebels’ forward pack in place of Tetera Faulkner and Jermaine Ainsley, who have moved to the bench.
Ross Haylett-Petty earns his first start since the Rebels’ Round 10 match against the Bulls, while Jack Maddocks shifts to fullback and Sefa Naivalu moves off the bench and onto the right wing.
Sam Jeffries and Lopeti Timani also make their returns to the 23, as the Rebels opt for a six-two bench split.
Captain Adam Coleman (adductor) and scrumhalf Will Genia (arm) will spend one more week on the sidelines. However, reserve hooker Nathan Charles has shaken off any concussion concerns and will line up on the reserves bench.
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Jack Maddocks, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Tom English (captain), 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Reece Hodge, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Ross Haylett-Petty, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Fereti Sa’aga.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Charles, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Harrison Goddard, 22 Jack Debreczeni, 23 Lopeti Timani.
Date: Saturday, July 14
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-off: 17.15 (15.15 AEST; 05.15 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Paul Williams (New Zealand), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)
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