Super Rugby AU, Final - Teams and Predictions
REDS V BRUMBIES: Brumbies captain Allan Alaalatoa is sure the defending champions have come armed with the tricks and tactics necessary to slow the Queensland Reds’ scrum dominance in Saturday’s Super Rugby AU decider.
The Reds have beaten the Brumbies in two tight comeback wins this season, turning the tables on the long-time powerhouses of Australian rugby who pipped them in last year’s Canberra final.
But the true test will come in front of more than 40 000 fans at Suncorp Stadium, where the Reds will again be buoyed by Taniela Tupou’s scrum power and matured No.10 James O’Connor.
Alaalatoa left Suncorp Stadium frustrated at their inability to stop what they knew was coming in their last encounter but says they’ve adjusted for what he and rival captain O’Connor are both describing as one of the biggest games of their careers.
“There’s a few ways we’ve spoken about it and the Force last week, they scrum similar so it was a good hit out,” the prop said.
“We know it’s a strength of theirs and an area we both pride ourselves on – as well as the maul and line-out – but they’ve set the benchmark in the scrum.”
O’Connor, who has been happy to take the three points and accumulate it on the back of their scrum penalties in a seven-one season, expects a response from the Brumbies.
“For sure when you’re versing someone like Nella [Tupou] and Feao [Fotuaika] and BPA (hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa) you’re going to need a few tricks because they’re powerful men,” he said.
“We’ll see what they come with … it’ll be a mighty battle but I have a lot of confidence in my men.”
The Reds’ branding has claimed it is “their time” all season, their confidence drawing a reaction from Brumbies coach Dan McKellar earlier this week when he loaded the pressure on the hosts.
“I try and disregard everything that’s been said but when you’ve got a home final, played some great footy and beaten us twice, you automatically have that vibe,” Alaalatoa said.
Recalled as captain with Liam Wright benched, O’Connor insisted theirs was a healthy rivalry that had helped bring the code back from the brink after last season’s COVID-19 shutdown.
“There’s always mind games in footy; we respect them, know they’re great outfit but in a final it’s whoever wants it more, history doesn’t matter,” he said.
“Everyone talks about it being another game but it’s not, it’s a final and my mindset is that its the last game of the year, do or die.
“Forty thousand at Suncorp, it’s unreal … Australian rugby feels good, there’s a buzz around Brisbane and I don’t think I could have seen it developing in this way after a tough time.”
Stats that matter
- The Queensland Reds have won three of their last four Super Rugby games against the Brumbies (L1), including their last two on the bounce each by a margin of two points on the day.
- This will be the third finals meeting between the Queensland Reds and Brumbies in Super Rugby and their second in Super Rugby AU; each of the previous two finals encounters between these teams have been won by the Brumbies on the day.
- The Queensland Reds have won three of their last four finals games on home soil in Super Rugby (L1), including an 18-13 win over the Crusaders when they last hosted the final in 2011.
- The Brumbies will be looking to secure their fourth Super Rugby title from their last six attempts in Super Rugby finals; indeed, only the Crusaders (10) have won more finals than the Brumbies overall (3).
- The Queensland Reds have made more clean breaks (28) and won more turnovers (8) within the opposition’s 22m zone this Super Rugby AU campaign than any other team.
- The Brumbies (64/116) have opted to catch and drive on 55 percent of their line-outs won on their own throw this season, 14 percentage points higher than any other team in the competition.
- The Queensland Reds and Brumbies have each scored 11 tries within the opening quarters of games this Super Rugby AU campaign, more than any other teams in the competition; however, the Brumbies (1) have conceded fewer tries in this period than any other team.
- Fraser McReight (Queensland Reds) has won 11 turnovers this Super Rugby AU season, three more than any other player in the competition.
- Tom Banks (Brumbies) has gained the most metres (841) and made the most clean breaks (14) of any player throughout the 2021 Super Rugby AU season.
- Tom Wright (Brumbies) has scored a try in each of his last four Super Rugby games, including one in his last game against the Queensland Reds in Round Eight of this Super Rugby AU season.
@rugby365com: Reds by three points.
Queensland Reds: 15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Jordan Petaia, 13 Josh Flook, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Jock Campbell, 10 James O’Connor (captain), 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Ryan Smith, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Feao Fotuaika.
Replacements: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Dane Zander, 18 Zane Nonggorr, 19 Seru Uru, 20 Liam Wright, 21 Kalani Thomas, 22 Isaac Henry, 23 Filipo Daugunu.
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Tom Wright, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Rory Scott, 6 Nick Frost, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Lachlan Lonergan, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 Harry Lloyd, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Henry Stowers, 0 Luke Reimer, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Reesjan Pasitoa, 23 Mack Hansen.
Date: Saturday, May 8
Venue: Lang Park, Brisbane
Kick-off: 19.45 (09.45 GMT)
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant referees: Damon Murphy, Amy Perrett
TMO: James Leckie
Source: AAP & SANZAAR
Statistical information: Stats Perform