Could The Rebels Make It Three In A Row Against The Reds?

The Rebels and Reds will meet in the first match of Round Two in the Super Rugby AU competition later this morning in Sydney @ 11:05 SA Time. The Rebels have won five of their last seven Super Rugby games against the Reds, including their last two in a row. However, after a drought-breaking win over the Waratahs, last weekend, they must be the favourites against the Rebels who lost against the Brumbies (23-32) last weekend.

Reds head coach Brad Thorn has selected the same side of last weekend. Lock Angus Blyth has passed HIA protocols this week following a head knock in last Friday’s six-point win over the Waratahs and will resume his spot in the second row. Josh Flook has again been named as a replacement and is potentially set to make his Super Rugby and Queensland debut tomorrow.

“This is game-two for us and we’re focused on improving our game and knowing we’ve got a really tough opposition,” said Thorn.

“We’ve got a lot of respect for the Rebels. They’re a really good defensive side with good line-speed, Smart man at 10 with (Matt) Toomua. They’ve got a good set-pi have really stepped up in their scrummaging, good line-out. It was a good hit-out with them and the Brumbies. They’re a strong side and that’s how we’re approaching it.”

Reds: 1. Harry Hoopert, 2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 3. Taniela Tupou, 4. Angus Blyth, 5. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 6. Liam Wright, 7. Fraser McReight, 8. Harry Wilson, 9. Tate McDermott, 10. James O'Connor, 11. Filipo Daugunu, 12. Hamish Stewart, 13. Hunter Paisami, 14. Jock Campbell, 15. Bryce Hegarty. Replacements: 16. Alex Mafi, 17. JP Smith, 18. Josh Nasser, 19. Tuaina Taii Tualima, 20. Angus Scott-Young, 21. Scott Malolua, 22. Chris Feauai-Sautia, 23. Josh Flook.

Rebels head coach Dave Wessels made just the one change to the side to face the Reds. The promotion of Magnay sees Reece Hodge shifts to the bench in a move designed to manage the workload of the Wallaby super boot.

“Campbell is coming back from a long injury layoff and Hodgey had some injuries before the break, so it’s probably just more of a case of managing both their loads,” explained Wessels at his team announcement.

“They’ve both had a huge workload over the last couple of weeks and both will be important to us during this campaign, so we’re fortunate they’re both really good players.

“Campbell brings something a bit different to Hodgey in terms of his size and physicality and Hodgey will certainly see a fair bit of time at the back end of the game, so we need both those options.”

“We felt we finished the COVID period with some real cohesion as a group – we had a great win in Dunedin and a good win against the Lions to finish, but that wasn’t anything like we saw on Saturday night.

“It’s been a pretty disruptive ten days for the group but what we have to do is play better on Friday. I don’t think the opposition matters to us at this point - we just want to play better as a team, and we know we can beat anyone in this comp when we play well.”

One area of play that has the coach enthusiastic is the scrum, after his men performance against the highly fancied Brumbies pack in Canberra on Saturday night.

“We had four guys all starting debuts in that pack – for half the pack that was new together, I thought it was a great achievement and certainly towards the end of the game we had more debutants, so we were pleased about that.

“Our scrum doesn’t get a good wrap in the media but the statistics around our scrum have been strong for a long period, so it’s not a part of the game where we don’t think we can dominate the opposition.”

Rebels: 1. Matt Gibbon, 2. Jordan Uelese, 3. Pone Fa’amausili, 4. Matt Philip, 5. Michael Stolberg, 6. Josh Kemeny, 7. Richard Hardwick, 8. Michael Wells (VC), 9. Ryan Louwrens, 10. Matt To’omua (VC), 11. Marika Koroibete, 12. Billy Meakes, 13. Campbell Magnay, 14. Andrew Kellaway, 15. Dane Haylett-Petty. Replacements: 16. Efi Ma'afu, 17. Cameron Orr, 18. Jermaine Ainsley, 19. Trevor Hosea, 20. Esei Ha'angana, 21. Rob Leota, 22. Frank Lomani, 23. Reece Hodge.

Opta Facts:

The Rebels have won five of their last seven Super Rugby games against the Reds, including their last two on the bounce; they have never won more than two consecutive games against the Queensland side.

The Rebels have won only one of their nine Super Rugby games in New South Wales (L8) and have lost their last three games in the state by an average margin of 18 points per game.

After their opening-round win, the Reds will be hunting for back-to-back wins against Australian opposition in Super Rugby for the first time since May 2015 – which included a 46-29 win over the Rebels.

The Rebels have scored the opening try of the game in five of their last eight Super Rugby meetings against the Reds, after having never previously done so.

Tate McDermott has been directly involved in 11 tries in his last five starts for the Reds (6 tries, 5 try assists); although, he is yet to be directly involved in a try against the Rebels.