The Melbourne Rebels are set to make their 2021 Super Rugby AU bow as they take on the Reds in Queensland this weekend. The other game in the round sees the Brumbies hosting for the first time this season as they welcome the New South Wales Waratahs. The Western Force have the weekend off to lick their wounds from a first-out defeat against the defending champions in Round 1.
Here is a look at the two games in Round 2:
Reds vs. Waratahs
Friday, February 26 – Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
The Rebels got to watch last weekend as the Reds lit up the opening night of Super Rugby AU in 2021 with an emphatic 41-7 win over the Waratahs. It was a display of attacking dominance unlike anything we saw from the Queensland side last year and their attack should only get better this weekend as they unleash former Melbourne Storm star Suliasi Vunivalu on the Rebels. He has been named on the bench for this clash after an assault charge leveled against him for off-field behavior saw him stood down by the team in Round 1. The ‘Tongan Thor” returns to the starting lineup as Taniela Tupou replaced Feao Fotaika at tighthead prop.
The Rebels are looking every bit the homegrown squad they want to be as no less than nine of thier players in the side came through the Victorian system or were born in the city. Joe Powell – their big offseason recruit at No. 9 – will make his Rebels debut in a tasty-looking pairing in the halves with captain Matt To’omua. They will be without star fullback Dane Haylett-Petty as he recovers from concussion symptoms that have reached the troubling stage. Tom Pincus starts instead of the club’s regular skipper at No. 15.
We don’t know how good the Rebels are – they have the ability and players to be very solid in 2021 – but we saw exactly what the Reds can do in Round 1. I would stay away from the Rebels until we know more, so take the home side to cover the -12.5 spread at 0.90 with BetXChange.
ACT Brumbies vs. NSW Waratahs
Saturday, February 27 – GIO Stadium, Canberra
Two sides with very different Round 1 performances meet in Canberra. As mentioned, the Waratahs were thumped by the Reds with the New South Wales side feeling the result of losing so many experienced players over the last couple of seasons. The Brumbies, on the other hand, picked up a 27-11 victory in Perth against a Western Force team that was hyped up for the clash.
The Brumbies would name an identical starting XV this weekend if it wasn’t for a toe injury keeping hooker Folau Fainga’a out of the lineup. He will be replaced by Connal McInerney with ex-Junior Wallaby Lachlan Lonergan set to come off of the pine later in the game. The ‘Tahs have made four changes due to either injury or suspension, with Lachie Swinton, Jack Grant, Tepai Moeroa, and Mark Nawaqanitawase all coming into the side. Alex Newsome will captain the side from 13 as the side will be without the services of outstanding scrum-half Jake Gordon through injury.
The Waratahs looked like the worst team in the comp last weekend and now they have to do a full 80 without Gordon who was easily their best on ground. Take the Brumbies at home at -15.5 at 0.95 with BetXChange as the demoralized Waratahs get kicked while they are down.