Rebels And Waratahs In Desperate Fight For Survival

The Waratahs will host the Reds today at the Sydney Cricket Ground, 11:15 SA time. This could prove vital for both teams to keep their championship title hopes alive. Should the Reds win today they will move back to the second place on the log with only three points behind the Brumbies who lost their game yesterday against the Rebels. Should the Waratahs win they will remain at fourth on the log but will move to one point behind the Reds on the log.

The Reds won the first game between the two teams in round one 32-26. 

Waratahs head coach Rob Penney has named a largely unchanged starting lineup. Rob Simmons has been named to play despite suffering a rib injury last start against the Rebels. The skipper will be given every opportunity to prove his fitness, with Jed Holloway named as a cover on the bench.

Jake Gordon returns to the starting side after making a successful return to play form the bench in Round 4. He'll be joined by Lalakai Foketi who also returns, replacing Joey Walton at outside centre.

Angus Bell has been named as a replacement following his recovery from a back complaint, while Hugh Sinclair will make his first appearance for the Tahs after an extended injury lay-off.

Waratahs: 1. Tom Roberton, 2. Tom Horton, 3. Harry Johnson-Holmes, 4. Ned Hanigan, 5. Rob Simmons (C), 6. Lachlan Swinton, 7. Michael Hooper, 8. Jack Dempsey, 9. Jake Gordon, 10. Will Harrison, 11. Alex Newsome (VC), 12. Karmichael Hunt, 13. Lalajai Foketi, 14. James Ramm, 15. Jack Maddocks. Replacements: 16. Andrew Tuala, 17. Angus Bell, 18. Tetera Faulkner, 19. Tom Staniforth/Jed Holloway, 20. Hugh Sinclair, 21. Mitch Short, 22. Joey Walton. 23. Ben Donaldson.

The Reds made one change to their starting XV to take on the Waratahs for the second time in the Super Rugby AU season. 

Following his impressive return from injury last round, Jordan Petaia will start on the wing with Chris Feauai-Sautia sidelined with a calf injury.  

There are three changes to the bench with Queensland pathway product Zane Nonggorr potentially set to make his Super Rugby AU debut this weekend. 

Nonggorr is an Australian and Queensland U18s/Schoolboys representative, the 19-year-old tighthead prop captained the 1st XV at The Southport School last year and has been a part of the Reds Academy for the past two years. 

After debuting against New South Wales in Round 1 last month, lock Tuaina Taii Tualima is back in the 23 this week in place of Ryan Smith.

While Brothers flyer Josh Flook also re-joins the team as a finisher with Petaia in the starting side. 

Reds head coach Brad Thorn said: “It’s a great rivalry this – Queensland and New South Wales. There’s plenty of history between the two teams. They’re always a tough opponent and we’re looking forward to the contest. 

“Our defence, physicality and the effort from the guys has been great, but we’ve got a lot to improve on moving forward. 

“It’s good to have Jordy fit and firing again. For a first hit-out, he reminded us how special a player he is with a few special moments in the game that only Jordy can do.

“Zane Nonggorr is an outstanding young man. He’s come through the system here in Queensland and has been working hard in our program. As a group, we congratulate him on his selection this week,” said Thorn.

The Reds will look to retain the Bob Templeton Cup following their drought-breaking victory over New South Wales in Round 1 of Super Rugby AU last month.

The Reds return home next week as they host the Rebels at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday 15 August. 

Reds: 1. Dane Zander, 2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 3. Taniela Tupou, 4. Angus Blyth, 5. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 6. Angus Scott-Young, 7. Liam Wright (c), 8. Harry Wilson, 9. Scott Malolua, 10. James O’Connor, 11. Filipo Daugunu, 12. Hamish Stewart, 13. Hunter Paisami, 14. Jordan Petaia, 15. Jock Campbell. Replacements: 16. Alex Mafi, 17. Jack Straker, 18. Zane Nonggorr, 19. Tuaina Taii Tualima, 20. Fraser McReight, 21. Tate McDermott, 22. Bryce Hegarty, 23. Josh Flook.

Opta Facts:

The Reds picked up a 32-26 win against the NSW Waratahs when they met in the opening round of Super Rugby AU, snapping an 11-game losing streak against them in the process.

Three of the NSW Waratahs’ last four home games in Super Rugby have been won by the team trailing at half-time on the day, with the Waratahs surrendering two half-time leads in this stretch.

The Reds are winless in their last nine Super Rugby away games (D1, L8); their last away win against an Australian opponent came against the Rebels in Round 12, 2017.

The Reds have outscored their opponents by 20 points in the second halves of their games thus far in Super Rugby AU, more than any other team in the competition.

Michael Hooper (NSW Waratahs) has attended 58 defensive rucks so far in Super Rugby AU, 15 more than any other player in the competition; although, Reds’ duo Fraser McReight (43) and Liam Wright (40) are ranked second and third respectively.