Round 8 of Super Rugby AU is upon us and the matches this week see the Rebels hosting the Western Force in Melbourne and the Reds taking on the Brumbies in Brisbane.
Here is a look at the two games in Round 8:
Rebels vs. Western Force
Friday, April 9 – AAMI Park, Melbourne
This is a massive game as the Rebels host the Force with the third playoff berth still very much in play for both squads. The Reds and Brumbies are off in the distance, but the Rebels – 10 points from five games – will be looking to their home advantage here to hold off the Western Force – six points from five games. A bonus-point win would see the Force leapfrog their rivals into the third-place spot with just two matches remaining for each side.
This is going to be a game played at finals level and as such both have named strong squads. The Force have had the most movement within their starting lineup and they have named four Argentine internationals to give them more bite, including a pair in the halves in Tomas Cubelli and Domingo Motti. They also welcome back former Wallaby Kyle Godwin after he has recovered from a foot problem.
The biggest team news for the Rebels is that Australian sevens star Lewis Holland will start for the first time in the No. 12 jersey after coming off of the bench in recent rounds. His inclusion has seen a shakeup in the backs, with Reece Hodge slotting in at fullback and Tom Pincus being moved to the bench.
The Rebels were thumped by the dominant Reds last time out and they will be looking for a bounceback performance here. The Rebels are the better team and they will win this, but look for the Pumas in the Western Force starting XV to do enough to cover the spread of -10.5 at 0.90 With BetXChange.
Reds vs. Brumbies
Saturday, April 10 – Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
The undefeated Reds host the one-loss Brumbies in Brisbane as the two dominant forces in Super Rugby AU collide with top spot in the table – and hosting rights for the Grand Final – on the line. The Reds are four points ahead of the Brumbies with both having played six games, so if the defending champions are to jump the Queensland squad they need a win (ideally with a bonus point) on Saturday.
The Brumbies have their skipper back for this one with Allan Alaalatoa having served a three-week ban to reclaim his spot in the front row. This allows James Slipper to switch back to his more natural position of loosehead, with Darcy Swain’s inclusion in the second row alongside Cadeyrn Neville the only other change in their starting XV.
The Reds have named an unchanged side – not that shocking given the hiding they gave the Rebels – with captain Liam Wright set to make his season debut off of the bench following an ankle problem. Test winger Filipo Daugunu will also start as part of a set of high-powered reserves for the home side.
The Reds are out for blood this year and they are the side in the best form. Expect them to win here and cover at -3.5 (0.95) with BetXChange to seal a home Grand Final at Suncorp.