Queensland Reds return home in Brisbane undefeated. They just fended off the ACT Brumbies by 2 points (40-38) last week in Canberra. Now they want to keep their winning streak alive going to Saturday.
They will face the Western Force who has one win v Waratahs away. But have two losses at home. Having seen them lose to the Rebels last week. Reds won all of last years meeting v Force. But the away side have yet to win v them. If you wind back to R14 in 2017. That is where the Force last tasted victory v Reds in Brisbane, 26-40.
Dane Zander & Taniela Tupou starts at loosehead & tighthead. Alex Mafi given another chance at hooker. Angus Blyth & Lukhan Salakaia-Loto retains in the second row. So does Angus Scott-Young & Fraser McWright at flanker. As Harry Wilson caps off the Reds forwards at 8.
Tate McDermott starts at 9 alongside skipper James O’Connor at 10. Filipo Daugunu on the left wing. With Suliasi Vunivalu at the other flank. Hunter Paisami & Jordan Petaia retains in the midfield. And Jock Campbell at full-back.
Brandon Paenga-Amosa behind Mafi at hooker. Harry Hoopert & Zane Nonggorr in the props. Ryan Smith as reserve for Blyth & Salakaia-Loto. Seru Uru either at flanker/No.8. Kalani Thomas in for Moses Sorovi at back up No.9. Hamish Stewart behind JOC. And Bryce Hegarty can come & fill-in anywhere in the Reds backline.
Greg Holmes joins Tom Robertson at tighthead prop. Felati Kaitu’u as the hooker. Jeremy Thrush & Sitaleki Timani retains in the second row. So does Fergus Lee-Warner & Kane Koteka as blindside & openside flanker. And Brynard Stander completes the Force forwards unit at 8.
Tomas Cubelli & Jake McIntyre retains at 9 & 10 respectively. Richard Kahui shifted to the left wing from midfield. Where Henry Taefu takes his place on the inside centre. Tevita Kuridrani & Byron Ralston retains at outside centre & right wing. As Rob Kearney backing up in the 15 shirt.
Jack Winchester as reserve for Felati Kaitu’u. Angus Warner & Santiago Medrano in the props. Ryan McCauley behind Thrush and Timani. Tim Anstee back as loose forward. Ian Prior behind Cubelli. So does Jack McGregor as reserve 1st five-eighth. And Marcel Brache rounds off the Force 23 at utility back.
Reds would want to capitalize with an extended winning run. The whole group is firing up. Especially in the 2nd half where they worked together so hard. Reds were 10-15 points behind the Brumbies at one point after the break. But it is the talk up and maximum support of these decoy runners backed them up. And that is how the Reds executed that won a great game.
The one thing they need to improve on is the starts. Reds did not have the chance to lead early so far. Two of their recent games almost ended in losses. Especially up against the Melbourne Rebels & ACT Brumbies. If they can cut the discipline and get the whole team together. Then Reds will have a great time to win easily. Just like in Week 1 v Waratahs 41-7 in Brisbane. Despite firing off behind them.
While the Western Force may have fallen so short last week at home. Having seen them lose to the Rebels by three points (7-10). But they do have a win away in Week 3 v Waratahs. Force has a great group of players who have plenty of experience. Both Super Rugby & International level. And you see these youngsters benefiting their presence. In which does lifts the whole squad up.
The next question is can the Force bounce back? Even it means facing an undefeated side. It will be tough road for sure. When they do not have the best of starts like the Reds. Although, a couple of changes did see them get back in the game. After the Force scored nothing last week in the first 40. But did not have enough time to make up another win. That is a challenge the Force must answer this weakness. If they are going to upset the Reds on Saturday.
It will be another good game to watch. But I am picking the Reds to win by 18 points.