It was a shaky opening round of Super Rugby AU last weekend with some real ups and downs showing off the best and worse of Australian rugby in the shell of a weekend. Moving on into the second round of the competition, the big performers from round one, the Brumbies will earn a rest in round two on the bye. Opening up, the Rebels will be at home, but not at home when they take on the Reds. Then for the Saturday night fixture the Waratahs get their first home game up against the Force who are finally back in Australian Super Rugby.
REBELS vs REDS – Brookvale Oval
So the Rebels are at “home” for round two, but due to the state of Melbourne they wont be returning home any time soon and are having their matches moved in preparation for each week. This week they will be in Manly at Brookvale Oval. Most importantly it is the losing side from round one, taking on a victor. Despite the loss, the Rebels should be pretty happy with how they performed against the Brumbies. Its not often the losing side comes away with the bigger grin. They actually got some forward dominance and grabbed that rolling maul try which was the most surprising. It will be no easier for them in round two either going up against another side who loves to use their powerful pack. If the Rebels can play that style again they could possibly match up to the Reds but it still seems tough to see them maintaining that for another eighty minutes. The Rebels will be expecting a better display from their midfield and backs, Billy Meakes was fairly ineffective and Reece Hodge needs to use his big punt to more advantage than just at the late stages. Matt To’omua at ten? I’m still unconvinced. He doesn’t get the best from his backline and seem unconvincing going about his jobs. What could be a full season on the road for the Rebels will be the toughest thing to overcome as this season progresses week after week.
The Reds looked good for the majority of their opening fixture and held tough at the end to come away with a tough victory. That will be a big boost for the players to have that confidence to finish the job against a side they had not beaten for seven years. There was a number of areas this team stood up in but discipline was not one of them. Silly penalties was one thing, but even stupid yellow cards is a game changing problem. They need to clean both of those things up as soon as possible. In what will be a battle of the tens who are not tens, James O’Connor looks a much better fit in the fly half jumper. He was creative and ambitious against the Waratahs last weekend and I do hope he continues he quest of kicking a 50/22 or 22/50 this weekend too. Tate McDermott was a constant problem for defenders and looks to be one of the leading scrum halves in Australia now. Its the power and mobility of the pack that is once again going to be their key, they need to get that over what will be a much tougher Rebels pack. The players who didn’t have that expectation surrounding them were the most impressive, Angus Blyth, Fraser McReight and Harry Wilson completed the Reds pack performance with good balance. Liam Wright looks like a real leader for this side but need to make sure they keep their emotions in check if and when things get tight during the eighty minutes. The three playmakers in the backline option I feel worked quite well, Hamish Stewart really took on a lot of freedom with ball in hand and looked like he enjoyed not having the pressure of making the decisions at ten. I was impressed with how the Reds went about their work over round one and feel they could be the side to do the job again against the Rebels.
RESULT – Reds by 4
WARATAHS vs FORCE – Sydney Cricket Ground
THE FORCE ARE BACK! Oh its been quite some time without them in Super Rugby and if there’s ever a chance for some redemption to prove what they are all about, this is it. The Waratahs get that home advantage which they will be very grateful for considering it is against the Force. Obviously they will have to face them on the road sooner or later and that is going to be an event like every Force game at home. The ‘Tahs season opener was anything short of impressive, going down to the Reds and being outplayed for large passages on the match. Being the close has to lead to some positive’s to look at and plenty of room to improve from their first outing. Biggest player of note that will put plenty of smiles of Wallabies coach Dave Rennie for now and the future is Will Harrison at fly half. That number ten jumper has the prospect to be a huge problem if guys like Harrison don’t stand up. He looks composed on the ball and has started taking on the line more and more each week with reward and dragged his team back into it against the Reds. Hes a pivotal player in this side and will only improve. The pack struggled to get anything over the big Reds forwards and need to step up against what is going to be the unknown in the Force.
OK so how do you preview the Force for their first game of the season? They played one match in the Global Rapid Rugby 2020 season against the Malaysia Valke which resulted in a expected thumping to the score of 51-14. Not much can be learnt from that fixture so this Force side is going in after the bye as a complete unknown which is an advantage they will need to use against the aimless Waratahs. The Force have a number of key players they will lean on during the season. In the pack they have a quality looking spine, Kieran Longbottom, Jeremy Thrush, Henry Stowers and Brynard Stander have the experience to drive the Force pack. Coming up against this Waratahs pack they will be liking their chances of getting the better of with their own style of play. Into the backline and there is plenty of key names that have rejoined the Force for Super Rugby AU. They have two steady hands in the halves with Ian Prior and Jono Lance in the halves. One of the best and most consistent Force performers during Global Rapid Rugby, Marcel Brache will boost the side in the centres. The quality off the bench is surprisingly strong for the Force as well, Andrew Ready, Chris Heiberg, Greg Holmes and Johan Bardoul all suit up with plenty of Super Rugby and domestic rugby experience under their cap. The other returning Force boy, Kyle Godwin will also suit up on the bench this weekend. Lets not make any mistakes about this Force side, it is not a bunch of misfits dragged together for the start of Super Rugby AU. This is a core of the side constructed over the seasons of Global Rapid Rugby and will have plenty of continuity between the players. Add in those higher quality names who could spark quite a difference for the Force. The Waratahs have just as many fresh faces in their side as the Force and I expect this could be quite a contest. As much as I would love to give the Force a cracker start to Super Rugby AU with a victory, especially against the Waratahs, I just cant quite see it coming to happen.
RESULT – Waratahs by 5
Previews and reviews are right here Behind The Posts for each and every round of Super Rugby AU! Rugby is back in Australia! Let me know your thoughts on the action this weekend in the comments and thanks for stopping by Behind The Posts. If you would like to have your say here, get in touch on the contact page today!