Super Rugby AU - Predictions and Teams, Round Eight
MIND GAMES: The trap was set but NSW coach Rob Penney refused to take the bait ahead of the Waratahs’ Super Rugby AU grudge match against the Brumbies on Saturday.
“They’ve won two games in a row so they’re world-beaters again and full of confidence, according to most, so they will play side to side rugby and we’ll certainly be looking to put them under pressure,” Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said on Thursday.
Whether it was a subtle dig or a genuine compliment from McKellar, Penney wasn’t too sure, nor did he care.
“Did he say that, did he? Talking us up. Do you think he’s trying to deflect?” Penney said.
“We certainly wouldn’t be viewing himself as world-beaters after a couple of wins.
“No, we’re pretty grounded. They’re very hot favourites at their home ground, obviously, and after what they’ve done in the last few years that would be an appropriate status for them.”
The mind games are on in earnest.
Penney noted that the Waratahs winning successive games for the first time in more than a year was nothing like claiming back-to-back titles or Australian conference honours as the Brumbies have done.
The fierce rivalry between Australia’s two most successful franchises is obvious even to a Kiwi in his first season in charge of the Waratahs and he’s not surprised the Brumbies retain a siege mentality even a quarter of a century after their establishment.
“It’s a pretty tumultuous sort of a relationship,” Penney said.
“Obviously when the Brumbies first merged, they took a lot of people from the NSW region. They created a bit of a mentality of nobody wants us, nobody loves us, nobody backs us.
“That mentality still survives today and used in the right way it can be a very effective motivator.”
Penney, who has named the same 23-man team that beat the Western Force last week, has his own motivations – and that’s helping the Waratahs stay in the race to host next month’s final.
Victory in Canberra could propel the Tahs above the Brumbies in top spot with two rounds remaining before the three-team playoffs.
This week’s predictions
Friday, August 21
Western Force v Reds
(CBUS Stadium, Gold Coast – Kick-off: 19.05; 09.05 GMT)
The Force have won seven of their last 11 Super Rugby games against the Reds (D1,L3); although, they were defeated 24-31 when they met in Round 3 of Super Rugby AU.
The Reds are winless in their last 10 away games in Super Rugby (D1, L9), including a 12-45 defeat in their last such fixture (v NSW Waratahs) – their biggest defeat on the road in over two years.
The Force have won 7.6 scrums per game on their own feed in Super Rugby AU, the most of any team; indeed, only the Reds (97.8 percent) have a higher scrum success rate for
the campaign than the Force (90.5 percent).
The Reds have scored four tries on possession begun with a scrum win in Super Rugby AU, twice as many as any other team in the competition.
Reds’ duo Fraser McReight (13) and Liam Wright (8) have won more turnovers in Super Rugby AU than any other players, while Wright (7) has also stolen the most lineouts of any player.
@rugby365com: Reds by 15 points
Western Force: 15 Jake Strachan, 14 Byron Ralston, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Richard Kahui, 11 Brad Lacey, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Brynard Stander, 7 Kane Koteka, 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 5 Ollie Atkins, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 Pekahou Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessman, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Tom Sheminant, 19 Johan Bardoul, 20 Ollie Callan, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Jack McGregor, 23 Henry Taefu.
Queensland Reds: 15 Jock Campbell, 14 Jordan Petaia, 13 Josh Flook, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Filipo Daugunu, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Liam Wright, 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Angus Blyth, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Jack Straker.
Replacements: 16 Josh Nasser, 17 Harry Hoopert, 18 Zane Nonggorr, 19 Tuaina Taii Tualima, 20 Angus Scott-Young, 21 Moses Sorovi, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Jack Hardy.
Referee: Jordan Way
Assistant referees: Nic Berry, Damon Murphy
TMO: Brett Cronan
Saturday, August 22
Brumbies v Waratahs
(GIO Stadium, Canberra – Kick-off: 19.15; 09.05 GMT)
The Brumbies have won eight of their last nine Super Rugby games against the NSW Waratahs (L1), including their last five on the bounce – their longest ever winning streak against them.
The NSW Waratahs have won their last two Super Rugby games heading into this fixture; the last time they won more than two consecutive games was a three-game stretch from June to July in 2018.
The Brumbies have both scored the most (5) and conceded the fewest (1) tries of any team in the final quarters of their games in Super Rugby AU.
The NSW Waratahs have made more clean breaks (9) and offloads (8) per game than any other team in Super Rugby AU, despite having the lowest time in possession per game this season (15m 18s).
Tom Horton (NSW Waratahs) has a lineout throw success rate of 93 percent (39/42) in Super Rugby AU, the highest of any player to have made at least three throws
@rugby365com: Brumbies by five points
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Solomone Kata, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Tom Wright, 10 Bayley Kuenzle, 9 Ryan Lonergan, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Will Miller, 6 Lachlan McCaffrey, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Murray Douglas, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Connal McInerney, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Lachlan Lonergan, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Rob Valetini, 21 Tom Cusack, 22 Nic White, 23 Len Ikitau.
Waratahs:15 Jack Maddocks, 14 James Ramm, 13 Lalakai Foketi, 12 Joey Walton, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Will Harrison, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Rob Simmons (captain), 4 Ned Hanigan, 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 Tom Horton, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Angus Bell, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Hugh Sinclair, 21 Mitch Short, 22 Ben Donaldson, 23 Nick Malouf.
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant referees: Graham Cooper, Reuben Keane
TMO: Ian Smith
SANZAAR & AAP