Super Rugby AU - Predictions and Teams, Round Nine
ROAD MAP TO SUCCESS: Melbourne feel the Brumbies may have revealed a road-map to Super Rugby AU success over the Waratahs that they can follow in Saturday’s crunch match.
The Rebels can end the Waratahs’ push for a finals berth at Leichhardt Oval, and seal a spot for themselves in the process.
The Waratahs line-out faltered in their last round loss to the competition-leading Brumbies, losing five of their own.
Melbourne coach Dave Wessels said the Brumbies exposed a vulnerability in young hooker Tom Horton, who only made his Super Rugby starting debut this year.
“The Brumbies did a great job on them, particularly around their line-out,” Wessels said on Thursday.
“I think that’s a source area that gives the Waratahs a lot of energy and the Brumbies got right into that.
“Tom Horton is playing very well but he’s still young and I felt the Brumbies did a good job of getting into his head a bit.”
Melbourne won their round four meeting 29-10, which Wessels rated as one of their best performance of the season.
He said his team needed to reproduce that, given what was on the line.
“I feel really confident of where our game is at when we’re playing at our best and our focus is to do that consistently over 80 minutes and we’ve only done that a handful of times this season, and probably that Waratahs game was one of them.
“We have the potential to play really well but the Waratahs will obviously be up for it so we need to arrive ready for the battle.”
Rebels skipper Dane Haylett-Petty [knee] came close to selection while the Waratahs will again be without midfield gun Karmichael Hunt [hamstring].
Former NRL second-rower Tepai Moeroa is a shock choice in his place at inside centre, earning his first start in Super Rugby AU, despite making only a brief appearance in round one.
Backrower Will Harris also returns to the reserves after an extended injury lay-off due to an ankle injury.
This week’s predictions
Friday, August 28:
Brumbies v Western Force
(GIO Stadium, Canberra – Kick-off: 19:05; 09.05 GMT)
The Brumbies have won their last eight Super Rugby games against the Force on the bounce; only once before have they managed more successive wins against a single
opponent (Reds – 12; 2000 – 2010).
The Brumbies have won 14 of their last 15 Super Rugby games on home turf (L1), including their last four on the bounce; they have not lost an Australian derby at home since the opening round of the 2019 season.
The Brumbies (5) and Force (3) have scored the most and second-most tries from mauls respectively in Super Rugby AU; indeed, no other team has scored more than one try via this method.
Tom Wright has scored six tries in his last six Super Rugby games for the Brumbies, including one against the Force in Round Four of Super Rugby AU; in fact, in that game he made career highs for carries (15), metres gained (131) and clean breaks (4).
Henry Stowers (Force) has made a competition-high 19 tackles per game in Super Rugby AU; he has also made 12 carries per game, making him one of only four players to register 10+ per game in both categories.
@rugby365com: Brumbies by 15 points
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Solomone Kata, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Tom Wright, 10 Bayley Kuenzle, 9 Joe Powell, 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 Folau Fainga’a, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Rob Valetini, 21 Nic White, 22 Reesjan Pasitoa, 23 Len Ikitau.
Western Force: 15 Jack McGregor, 14 Marcel Brache, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Henry Taefu, 11 Brad Lacey, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Ian Prior (captain), 8 Henry Stowers, 7 Kane Koteka, 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 5 Ollie Atkins, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Feleti Kaitu’u, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Tom Sheminant, 19 Tevin Ferris, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Richard Kahui, 23 Jake Strachan.
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner, Reuben Keane
TMO: Graham Cooper
Saturday, August 29:
Melbourne Rebels v Waratahs
(Leichhardt Oval, Sydney – Kick-off: 19:15; 09.15 GMT)
The Rebels have won their last two Super Rugby games against the Waratahs on the bounce, after having won only two of their first 17 encounters in the competition (L15).
The Rebels have not conceded more than 20 points in any of their last five Super Rugby games; it’s their longest ever streak of restricting their opponents to 20 points or fewer and more times than they had done so in their 16 games prior.
The Rebels (86 percent) boast the highest line-out success rate of any team in Super Rugby AU; however, the Waratahs have stolen 19 line-outs this campaign – nearly twice as many as any other team.
Waratahs’ Will Harrison (91 percent; 31/34) and Rebels’ Matt Toomua (85 percent; 23/27) are the two most accurate goal kickers after the opening eight rounds of Super Rugby AU.
Tom Horton (Waratahs) has crossed the gainline with 78 percent of his 27 total carries in Super Rugby AU, the highest percentage of any player to have made at least 10 carries this campaign.
@rugby365com: Melbourne Rebels by five points.
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Reece Hodge, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Campbell Magnay, 12 Matt Toomua (captain), 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Andrew Deegan, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Brad Wilkin, 6 Michael Wells, 5 Trevor Hosea, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Cameron Orr.
Replacements: 16 Efitusi Ma’afu, 17 Cabous Eloff, 18 Pone Fa’amaluli, 19 Michael Stolberg, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 James Tuttle, 22 Billy Meakes. 23 Tom Pincus.
Waratahs: 15 Jack Maddocks, 14 James Ramm, 13 Joey Walton, 12 Tepai Moeroa, 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 Will Harris, 21 Mitch Short, 22 Ben Donaldson, 23 Nick Malouf.
Referee: Graham Cooper
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner, Amy Perrett
TMO: James Leckie
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