Super Rugby AU, Round Six - Teams and Predictions
BOUNCE BACK: Brumbies scrumhalf Nic White says they’ve been stewing on their first Super Rugby AU loss and are eager to “right some wrongs” against the Western Force on Friday.
The Brumbies suffered a two-point defeat against Queensland heading into the bye week and White, who is captain for the Canberra clash, says it hasn’t sat well with his team.
“No-one likes to go into a bye week after a loss,” White said on Thursday.
“A lot of the stuff we got into trouble within that game is stuff we can work on and we have, and guys have probably stewed on it and have been waiting for the opportunity to right some wrongs.
“We had some time to get away but I can almost guarantee most guys have had it in the back of their head and are pretty keen to get back in.”
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The Brumbies got the spoils 27-11 against the Force in their first meeting but White felt the Perth side had improved, delivering their best show of the season in a tight loss to the Reds last round.
“They’re travelling really well and they’re good in all areas of the game and we’re going to have to be sharp from set piece through to multi-phase encounters,” the Test No.9 said.
The GIO Stadium match is a homecoming for former Wallaby Tevita Kuridrani, who spent nine seasons with the Brumbies and was a vital member of their title-winning line-up last season.
Force coach Tim Sampson said the veteran centre had a spring in his step.
“He loves Canberra and it’s a ground he’s obviously really comfortable on,” Sampson said.
He felt his team had made some important improvements against the Reds and they were ready to tackle the 2020 champions.
With the Brumbies’ front row hit by injury and suspension, he felt setting the set piece tone early would be key.
“There were some really good gains last week and we want to build on that; find some more consistency throughout the game and when we’re on the front foot make sure we get points,” Sampson said.
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In terms of Saturday, Waratahs will host the Reds in Sydney.
The two teams have enjoyed very different seasons.
The Reds found themselves on top of the table, while Waratahs have been struggling.
Thus far the Waratahs have not recorded a single win, suffering record defeats to the Queensland Reds and Brumbies to open their season before allowing the Western Force their first victory since returning to the Australian ranks last year.
The Waratahs lost to 14-33 on Friday to the Melbourne Rebels to complete a clean sweep of defeats – which Rugby Australia boss Andy Marinos labelled a “concern for everyone” in the country’s biggest market.
Speaking at the launch of this weekend’s Aon Uni 7s domestic women’s tournament, Marinos was asked for his thoughts after five rounds of the Super Rugby AU season.
Marinos said broadcast numbers had trebled since the start of the season but they couldn’t gloss over the Waratahs’ struggles.
“There have been some unfortunate performances and that’s been well documented,” Marinos said.
“The Waratahs have been struggling this year and that’s obviously a concern for everyone.
“A big market like this when they’ve not been performing, it will have an impact.”
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Wallabies coach Dave Rennie was in camp with the Waratahs this week as part of his whistlestop club tour, while they have also benefited from time with RA mind coach Dave Diggle.
“We’ll continue to share and help where we can, to make sure that they get back to where they need to get back to,” Marinos said.
“At the same time, the Brumbies, Force, Rebels and Reds have all put in some really good displays and the games have been really compelling.”
We take a closer look at Round Six’s matches!
Friday, March 26:
Brumbies v Western Force
(GIO Stadium, Canberra – Kick-off: 19.45, 16.45 AWST; 09.45 GMT)
The Brumbies have won their last 10 Super Rugby games against the Western Force; their last defeat to them came in Round 20, 2013.
The Brumbies will be out to avoid back-to-back Super Rugby defeats for the first time since Round 8, 2019 after a nail-biting 38-40 defeat to the Queensland Reds in their last game.
The Brumbies boast a tackle success rate of 89 percent this Super Rugby AU campaign, the highest of any team in the competition.
Brumbies duo Noah Lolesio and Pete Samu have each scored two tries and made two try assists this Super Rugby AU season – no other player has logged more than one in both categories.
Fergus Lee-Warner (Western Force) has made 57 carries in the 2021 Super Rugby AU season, 10 more than any other player; his tally of 53 tackles is also the third – most of any player.
@rugby365com: Brumbies to win by five points
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Mack Hansen, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Nic White (captain), 8 Pete Samu, 7 Jahrome Brown, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 James Slipper, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Harry Lloyd
Replacements: 16 Lachlan Lonergan, 17 Fred Kaihea, 18 Sefo Kautai, 19 James Tucker, 20 Rory Scott, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Reesjan Pasitoa, 23 Issak Fines-Leleiwasa
Western Force: 15 Jack McGregor, 14 Byron Ralston, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Henry Taefu, 11 Marcel Brache, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Tomás Cubelli, 8 Brynard Stander (captain), 7 Kane Koteka, 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 5 Sitaleki Timani, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Feleti Kaitu’u, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Jack Winchester, 17 Angus Wagner, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19. Ryan McCauley, 20. Tim Anstee, 21. Ian Prior, 22. Jono Lance, 23. Jordan Olowofela.
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant referees: Amy Perrett & Reuben Keane
TMO: Brett Cronan
Saturday, March 27
Waratahs v Queensland Reds
(Stadium Australia, Sydney – Kick-off: 19:45; 09.45 GMT)
The Queensland Reds have won two of their last three Super Rugby encounters with the NSW Waratahs after having lost their 11 consecutive meetings prior; they’ll now hunt for back-to-back wins against the Waratahs for the first time since 2013.
The Queensland Reds have won two of their last three away games in Super Rugby and will be looking to log back-to-back away wins for the first time since April 2013 after picking up a 2-point win over the Brumbies in their last away game.
The NSW Waratahs have the lowest tackle success rate (78 percent) in their own 22m zone of any team this Super Rugby AU season and six percentage points lower than the Queensland Reds (84 percent).
The Queensland Reds have scored seven tries in the final quarters of their games this Super Rugby AU campaign, the most of any team in the competition; the NSW Waratahs (6) have conceded the most of any team in this period.
Alex Newsome (NSW Waratahs) has scored a try in two of his last three home games for NSW Waratahs in Super Rugby AU, and has scored a try in each of his last two home games against the Queensland Reds.
@rugby365com: Reds by 10 points.
Waratahs: 15 Jack Maddocks, 14 Alex Newsome (captain), 13 Lalakai Foketi, 12 Izaia Perese, 11 James Ramm, 10 Will Harrison, 9 Jack Grant, 8 Will Harris, 7 Carlo Tizzano, 6 Hugh Sinclair, 5 Sam Caird, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Te Tera Faulkner, 2 David Porecki, 1 Harry Johnson-Holmes
Replacements: 16 Tom Horton, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Darcy Breen, 19 Jeremy Williams, 20 Max Douglas, 21 Henry Robertson, 22 Tane Edmed, 23 Mark Nawaqanitawase
Queensland Reds: 15 Jock Campbell, 14 Suliasi Vunivalu, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Filipo Daugunu, 10 James O’Connor (captain), 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Seru Uru, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Ryan Smith, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 Dane Zander
Replacements: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Richie Asiata, 18 Zane Nonggorr, 19 Harry Wilson, 20 Sam Wallis, 21 Kalani Thomas, 22 Hamish Stewart, 23 Bryce Hegarty
Referee: Graham Cooper
Assistant referees: Jordan way & Amy Perrett
TMO: James Leckie
Compiled by Leezil Hendricks
Additional Source: AAP
*Statistical information provided by Stats Perform