Round 5 of Super Rugby AU is upon us and the matches this week see the Brumbies hosting the Western Force in Canberra and the Waratahs taking on the Reds in Sydney.
Here is a look at the two games in Round 6:
Brumbies vs Western Force
Friday, March 26 -GIO Stadium, Canberra
The Brumbies have had the bye week to stew on their two-point defeat at the hands of the Reds a couple of weekends ago and they will be looking to come out hard against the Western Force here. Going into a bye week after a loss is tough, but it has in many ways been a couple of weeks of intense fork for the Canberra side as their front-row shortage has reached critical mass.
James Slipper will be stepping across the scrum to the tighthead side – an almost entirely different set of techniques from his usual position on the loosehead end – and he will be joined by former Western Force prop Harry Lloyd on the other side. With so many injuries at the position, one of the bench spots is filled by former Chief Sosefo Kautai, a player that only joined the squad earlier this week.
There are a couple of changes to the Western Force team with veteran internationals Rob Kearney and Richard Kahui missing through injury. Their places in the backline will be taken by Jack McGregor and Marcel Brache.
The Brumbies will be looking to make a statement here, but their lack of front-row depth is a real worry. Expect them to win, but the Force will cover the -13.5 spread at 0.90 with BetXChange.
Waratahs vs. Reds
Saturday, March 27 – Stadium Australia, Sydney
The Waratahs needed to do something to get back on the horse with the team winless and facing the old enemy in a NSW/Queensland showdown in Sydney. Backrow changes are more enforced than wanted, with Wallabies Jack Dempsey and Lachlan Swinton ruled out through injury. There are seven changes to the side in all, with Izaia Perese’s return from suspension to partner Lalakai Foketi in the midfield giving the attacking intent of the team a serious boose. Lock Sam Wykes is another change as he is promoted to the starting side.
The Reds have made changes too, with a couple of Test players coming back into the starting side in win Filipo Daugunu and hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa. The other two changes see a run-on debut for Ryan Smith at lock and a start at No. 8 for Seru Uru, a hard-running backrower who will be looking to cause the Waratahs problems with their edge defence around the ruck.
This has been a brutal season for New South Wales and – unfortunately for their fans – it isn’t going to get any better here. The Reds have way too much quality and they are still buzzing after handing the Brumbies their first-ever Super Rugby AU loss a week ago. The Reds will heap the pressure on from the start and score often, easily covering the -16.5 spread with BeXChange at 0.90.