Round 3 of Super Rugby AU is upon us and the matches this week see the Waratahs hosting the Western Force in Sydney and the Brumbies taking on the Rebels in Canberra.
Here is a look at the two games in Round 3:
Waratahs vs Western Force
Friday, March 5 – Bankwest Stadium, Sydney
It is hard to emphasize just how big of a match this is for the Waratahs. The ‘Tahs are rock bottom of the log as they have scored just 17 points and allowed 102 in their two defeats. They face a Western Force side here that – with the addition of all their experienced internationals over the off-season – will really think they have a shot at beating the once might ‘Tahs – even in their own backyard.
Thie record 61-10 defeat at the hands of the Brumbies last week in Canberra shows just how far the Waratahs have fallen as their marquee and experienced players have left en masse over the past couple of seasons. The Baby ‘Tahs have talent, but head coach Rob Penney will need to be given time to develop this team into an outfit that can compete with the best the Australian game has to offer.
It is either total faith in his players – or lack of options – that has seen just Angus Bell drop out of the matchday 23 here. One change of note within that squad sees Jack Maddocks taking up the right-wing spot so that Mark Nawaqanitawase can play at fullback. The Western Force will fancy their chances if this game is settled between the backs. Argentine veteran Tomas Cubellis is starting at No. 9 instead of club captain Ian Prior, while Jono lance is out of the 23 with Jake McIntyre starting at pivot. Go with the Force to win here at 0.72 with BetXChange as this ‘Tahs team is in shambles
ACT Brumbies vs. Melbourne Rebels
Saturday, March 6 – GIO Stadium, Canberra
The Brumbies were in devastating form at GIO last weekend in their 51-point win over the Waratahs. They will be without one of their mainstays in prop James Slipper after a mishap in training sees the Wallabies Centurian ruled out for a few weeks. Scott Sio – another international – comes in as his replacement.
The Rebels looked great last week and were a missed Matt To’omua shot at goal after time had expired away from beating the much-fancied Reds. Their team looks very similar to that one, with the only changes being the inclusions of lock Ross Haylett-Petty and flanker Josh Kemeny. Skipper Dane Haylett-Petty remains out of the matchday 23 with his head injury raising real concerns about his ability to play at all this season.
It will be interesting to see how the Rebels approach this. Scrum-half Joe Powell won 73 caps for the Brumbies and he will know this team inside and out. Expect Powell to try to snipe off the edges when he sees matchups he likes in front of him. I expect the in-form Brumbies to win here, but the Rebels showed enough last week to suggest they will keep it close. Take the away side +13.5 at 0.85 with BetXChange.