Rebels v Brumbies
Date :Friday 25 February
Venue : Melbourne
Kick Off local: 19:40
In their first ever game in the competition Rebels were humiliated by the Waratahs last week 43-0. The Rebels have made changes to their starting side for this clash with the experienced Mark Gerrard returning from Japan to slot in at fullback, Julian Huxley moving to inside centre and Cooper Vuna shifting out to the wing, with Danny Cipriani set to start at flyhalf. The contest with the Brumbies will stir plenty of emotions in a number of Rebels who share rich histories with the Canberra-based side. Amongst these, Head Coach, Rod Macqueen, was the Brumbies’ foundation coach, captain, Stirling Mortlock, played for the franchise over 100 times; Julian Huxley had two spells with the club, while Mark Gerrard won a championship with them in 2004.
Against the Waratahs the Rebels tried to control possesion but I can guarantee we wont see that this week. The Rebels will kick for position, rather than wearing themselves down trying to play the recycling style of rugby Rod MacQueen perfected with the Wallabies in the late 90s.
The Brumbies got the win over the Chiefs 28-20 last week but were flattered by the result. The Brumbies gave the Chiefs plenty of chances to score tries on the weekend, however the Chiefs sternly refused many of those opportunities. Brumbies inability to secure a bonus point is some cause for concern after leading 18-0 22mins into the game.
We will see a far more physical display from the Rebels forwards in this one. A good kicking game and overall improved performance will see the Rebels stay in touch with the Brumbies. The Bookies have gone way overboard with the Rebels underdog status and have given them a huge point start which I will be having a strong bet on.
Selection: Rebels with 13.0pts start, odds 1.90, bet365