Its a huge weekend for the competition coming up with what could be seen as a quarter final match up on Saturday night between the Rebels and the Waratahs to ultimately decide who will take that third spot into the qualifying final weekend. Before that big game, we have our Friday night feature between the Brumbies and the Force to kick the weekend off. The in form Reds get the weekend to rest and recover. Lets check out the action coming out way…..
BRUMBIES vs FORCE – GIO Stadium
Here is the chalk and cheese match up of Super Rugby AU. Its first against last, the Brumbies who have hardly looked like losing many matches throughout the season and are up against the Force who, lets be honest, aside from their opening couple of shock treatment opening cracks, haven’t looked like they would be beating anyone this season.
The Brumbies have been the team to beat since day one and nothing has changed. They have suffered their wake up call loss to the Rebels a couple of weeks ago and have just stepped since that night. Whats more impressive, or scary for their opponents is how much better they have been scoring tries away from their forward pack and the lineout maul. Its now becoming a case of defences not knowing if they should commit fully to the lineout or keep the cover out wide. As a squad they have tested depth that is now forcing selection headaches and injury cover like Bayley Kuenzle making us forget who Noah Lolesio even is anymore.
The Brumbies have already secured their place in the playoffs and with the second placed Reds on the bye this weekend, will confirm their place as the top finisher with a victory this weekend. In the final game of the season, they meet those Reds which with both sides secure in the finals will leave some interesting selections for both sides who wont want to give anything away ahead of a possible grand final meeting. These two sides met back in round four with a pretty convincing 24-0 victory to the Brumbies, neither side will want to settle for that again.
Its a tough way to wrap up the season for the Western Force, away to the Brumbies and then away again to the Rebels. While I say the Force are away, they have been and will be away all season long which has been a tough deal for a side which has such a passionate home support that could have made a real difference to their performances. The Force are not ones to make excuses though and will be out to win this game regardless.
They need to go back to what was successful back in the early rounds. Sure, they don’t have that surprise factor one how they were going to play that really shock up the their opponents, but the quality of performance has fallen away since then also. Rest and rotation are two words we all dread to see and its something to Force cannot continue to work with. Their backrow is the biggest weapon and that early unit of Stowers, Ferris and Stander needs to be united back together again. Get that territory game running again and get the best out of the finishers like Byron Ralston who has been fantastic this season for the Force. Can they? Yes. Will they? No.
RESULT: Brumbies by 16.
REBELS vs WARATAHS – Leichhardt Oval
One of these two sides will finish in the finals, the other will miss out. That’s the simple situation heading into this big clash of the weekend. Most people will likely recall the last meeting between the two sides where it ended 29-10 to the Rebels with the only Waratahs points from a converted intercept try and and penalty, hardly a contest.
Now the Rebels are back at home as well and the confidence looking back at that match must be overwhelming for them. They have somehow slipped below the Waratahs on the table by one point but a win this weekend will be all they need to secure their place in the finals. The Waratahs sit out next weekends action and the Rebels face the Force, a free four point minimum.
The winning template is already there for the Rebels, especially against the Waratahs. Don’t feed them errors and force to pressure into their own half and the Waratahs have struggle to make anything happen from back there. Their selections will be interesting, they spent last weekend on the bye but recent matches before that they had been moving Matt To’omua out one with mixed results. The continued movement of Reece Hodge is always a worry for the Rebels who keep using one of the key men like putty to fill any gaps and holes in the lineup each week. Hes needs the ball and needs to be in the action. Selection will be key.
Regardless of the Rebels selection, I still think this one will be a tough one for the Waratahs to win. The old firm in their pack just lacks to modern game to compete and will again rely on that mental bully game they have employed all season long to get up over their opponent in the forwards. They are the most penalised team in the competition and if they continue to give away those each yards, they Rebels will turn that scoreboard. One man again is the massive key for the Waratahs in attack, Will Harrision is the only man in my view who has impressive in this Waratahs team and is a leading light for Australian Rugby. He can control a game and a scoreboard if allowed, to keep the Waratahs in a match. The pressure is all on the Waratahs to pick up this win and with the bonus point too and only that will secure their place in the finals in two weeks time.
RESULT: Rebels by 3
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