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Week 2 of the Super Rugby AU begins tomorrow night. When the Queensland Reds once again at Suncorp Stadium on home soil. This time they go up against the 2020 3rd placed Melbourne Rebels.
This is the Rebels first game of 2021 after taking the Week 1 off. Safe to say they have prepared a little longer. While the four other teams played at the same time last week. Add the extra travel going to Brisbane as well. This season they want to be in the Top 3 again. Having showed quality against some top sides. Rebels would like to show off their vast experience. In which would give the Reds a tough battle. Especially the young guns.
Queensland Reds on the other hand came off a big win v Waratahs in Week 1. They currently lead the ladder. As they look to go back to back wins. Most importantly about this team is the ability to explode an attack. The support is there when the defense blocked the Tahs chances. Before Reds convert it on their own. And it will be the key towards building a strong start.
Taniela Tupou replaces Feao Fotuaika at tighthead prop. Where Tupou joins Dane Zander on the opposite role. Alex Mafi retains as the starting hooker. No signs lately from Brandon Paenga-Amosa.
Angus Blyth pairs with Seru Uru in the locks. Angus Scott-Young stays at blindside flanker. Fraser McWright filled the 7 role well for Liam Wright who is sidelined from injury. And Harry Wilson rounds out the forward pack at No.8.
Tate McDermott starts as the first choice half-back. Where he will look feed support to playmaker James O’Connor. Filipo Daugunu & Jordan Petaia slots in each flank. With Hamish Stewart & Hunter Paisami playing centrally. Before Jock Campbell covers them up at full-back.
Josh Nasser as backup for Alex Mafi in the 16 shirt. Feao Fotuaika back on the bench with Harry Hoopert. Both will look to come in for Zander or Tupou later on.
Ryan Smith takes cover in the lock/second row. Sam Wallis behind Scott-Young, McWright & Wilson. Moses Sorovi decent as 2nd choice half-back. Bryce Hegarty flexible at 10 and 15. And Suli Vunivalu can cover anywhere in the wing/centre. He came off a great 2020 with the Melbourne Storm. Having guide them to a NRL title.
Cabous Eloff & Vaauli Faamausili in the props. With Jordan Uelese as the first choice hooker. Steve Cummins and Trevor Hosea backs them up in second row role.
Then you have the back three to complete the Rebels forward pack. Such as Brad Wilkin & Richard Hardwick at flanker. With Michael Wells comes in at Number Eight.
Joe Powell who is a former Brumby in at half-back. Joined by an experienced fly-half in Matt Toomua. Marika Koroibete on left wing looking to break the Reds defense. In the centres you have Reece Hodge alongside Stacey Ili. Lachlan Anderson on the right wing. And Tom Pincus completes the Rebels starting 15.
Ed Craig as second choice behind Uelese in No.16 shirt. Issac Aedo Kailea & Rhys Van Nek in the reserve props. Rob Leota & Josh Kemeny can fill in both lock/flanker/No8. Former Red James Tuttle & Frank Lomani at backup scrum-half. Lomani can pass/run a bit up the field if needed.
And Glen Viahu rounds out the Rebels 23 man squad on reserve backline. While the starting XV is experienced with some have Wallaby caps. Most of the Rebels bench comes from the youth development ranks.
It will no doubt be a cracking game between Reds v Rebels. Youth v Experience in other words for the win.
I guess the attack will fire it up from each end. Where the conversions will be tight to say at least. No doubt Filipo Daugunu is a top finisher. Same goes to James O’Connor. There is striking comparisons from the other end. With the Rebels pair of Marika Koroibete & Matt Toomua.
But my pick would be the Reds win by 10 points. Seems that the home team have a better defense than Rebels. And therefore a balanced XV would win the race. In contrast to a half-decent side. Nothing against this away team. I reckon despite the extra preparation. Rebels will have a tough time handling a emerging Maroon.