Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Date: Saturday, September 19, 2020
The Brumbies (0.62 with BetXChange) are the favorites for this clash based on how well they played to claim the minor-premiership with a round to spare. They won the competition with a record of six wins and two defeats – also picking up four bonus points – on their way to a ladder total of 28 points. Winning the minor-premiership not only made sure that the Grand Final was played on their own turf in Canberra, but it also meant that the Brumbies are rested as they didn’t have to play in the Qualifying Final that the Reds came through last weekend.
The Reds always looked like the biggest challengers to the Brumbies this season. They finished with the same amount of defeats as the Brumbies during the regular season, but they dropped points in a Round 2 draw against the Rebels. Their five wins in addition to those other three results saw the Reds finish on 25 points – they picked up three bonus points along the way – six points clear of the third-placed Rebels.
The Reds picked up a 26-7 win over the Brumbies in Round 10 – admittedly in a game that mattered little to the Canberra side – and they then were able to beat the Rebels 25-13 in the Qualifying Final one week ago. The win means that the Reds will be playing in their first Super Rugby final for nine years, the last being back in 2011 when they beat the Crusaders.
The biggest news for the Brumbies is that 20-year-old new Wallaby Noah Lolesio has recovered from a hamstring injury that sidelined him back in July to make the starting side for the final. It is a surprise inclusion in the side where Lolesio will be joined in the halves by Joe Powell who was rested for the final game of the regular season against the Reds.
There are four changes in all from that side as Murray Douglas replaces Darcy Swain at lock and Lachie McCaffrey will play six ahead of Rob Valetini.
The Reds have made a couple of changes from the side that took down the Rebels last time out. They are forced into a reshuffle in the backline, but it is one they have made before this season already. Chris Feauai-Sautia has been ruled out with an injury, so Hunter Paisami will come into the side at 13. This means that the exciting Jordan Petaia will again shift out to the wing, though expect Petaia to come in and find work as he is an explosive player.
The other change sees JP Smith come into the side a loose-head prop with Harry Hoopert joining the fray from the bench.
This isn’t an easy game to pick and there is certainly value in taking the Reds (1.30 with BetXChange) given that they have looked every bit the equal of the Brumbies over the last month or so of the season. The Reds have lost their last two matches in Canberra against the Brumbies, but this is a young and exciting Reds squad that has a couple of big-time ball winners in the back row in Liam Wright and Fraser McReight. Take the Reds to pull off the upset in a close one here.