Round 4 of Super Rugby AU takes place this weekend with the Waratahs hosting the Rebels and the Brumbies playing the Western Force. With the table-topping Queensland Reds off this week on their bye both the undefeated Brumbies and the Waratahs have a chance to take the lead on the ladder if results go their way this weekend. The Rebels and the Western Force, meanwhile, are both looking for their first wins of Super Rugby AU.
Here is a look at the two games:
Waratahs vs. Rebels
Friday, July 24 – SCG, Sydney
The Waratahs sit third on the ladder with six points from their one win and two defeats. They started out the comp losing by less than a score as they were taken down 32-26 by the Reds. Next up was a 23-14 defeat of the returning Western Force before they lost in agonizing fashion by a point last time out against the Brumbies. The Rebels have played a game less than the Waratahs and they are in fourth place with two points after a defeat and a draw. The 18-18 draw – after a period of scoreless Super Time – against the Reds two weeks ago was their last action as they are playing this week after coming off of their first bye week.
The Rebels are set to bring Wallaby Reece Hodge back into the side while giving promising homegrown lock Trevor Hosea will make his first start for the franchise. He will be one of three Victorians in the pack alongside prop Pone Fa’amausili and hooker Jordan Uelese. Center Campbell Magnay will miss out as he recovers from a concussion.
The Waratahs will name an unchanged starting XV assuming there are no late injury or illness problems with their only changes coming on the bench. Wallabies scrum-half Jake Gordon returns to the matchday squad after a hamstring problem, while Robbie Abel is one of the players to miss out on a spot on the pine as he has been replaced as the backup hooker by Joe Cotton.
The Waratahs should have won last week and they will be bitterly disappointed after letting a big lead slip away. The Rebels will fancy their chances here after their draw last time out in the competition and at 1.02 they are the better price at BetXChange in what figures to be a tight contest decided by a score in either direction.
Western Force vs. Brumbies
Saturday, July 25 – Leichhardt Oval, Sydney
The Force is propping up the table in fifth place with one point from two matches but they have far from embarrassed themselves on their return to Super Rugby with a squad that is not of the overall caliber of the teams they are playing against. Their two defeats have come by a combined 16 points and they played the Reds close for the entirety of their game last week as they eventually lost by a single try 31-24. The Brumbies are the only team with a 100% record left in the comp with nine points from their two wins. They beat the Rebels by eight points in Round 1 before scraping past the Waratahs by a single point in a cracking game last time out.
World Cup-winning All Black center Richard Kahui is ready to make his debut for the team off of the bench. The Force will also see Wallaby Nick Frisby at scrum-half with team captain Ian Prior missing with a shoulder injury. Expect Jeremy Thrush – another former All Black – to captain the side.
The Brumbies will be making five changes to their starting lineup with rookie fly-half Bayley Kuenzie set to be given his chance at 10 ahead of Hoan Lolesio. Other changes include the powerful Solomone Kata coming in on the right-wing and flanker Will Miller playing ahead of Tom Cusack.
The Force have been valiant but it is hard to pick them to win, especially with this game being in Sydney There is no value in taking the Brumbies for the straight-up win, but a winning margin bet of 6-10 (5.00) if the Force continue to fight or of 16-20 (4.00) if they don’t could be a worthwhile gamble.