Round 9 of Super Rugby AU is upon us and the matches this week see the Western Force hosting the Waratahs in Perth and the Rebels taking on the Brumbies in Melbourne.
Here is a look at the two games in Round 9:
Western Force vs. Waratahs
Saturday, April 17 – HBF Park, Perth
The Western Force are still in the middle of a fight for a finals place after they turned over the Melbourne Rebels 16-15 last time out. It was a huge win and it put the Force two one point behind the Melbournians with two rounds left in the season. With their final game of the season being against the table-topping Queensland Reds, the Force know that nothing less than a bonus-point win will be enough here.
Their push for third sees the returns of both Tim Anstee and Brynard Stander into the Starting XV. They replace Fergus Lee-Warner and Tomas Lezana respectively, while Richard Kahui is back in the team ahead of Byron Ralston. The speedy Jake Strachan comes onto the bench.
The ‘Tahs looked much better a week after Rob Penney’s sacking as they went down by only two points against the high-flying Brumbies before their bye last week. An injury blow has hit the ‘Tahs, however, with junior Wallaby Will Harrison set to miss the rest of the campaign with a hamstring injury. Ben Donaldson will start in the pivot role with Tane Edmed coming off of the bench.
Rebels vs. Brumbies
Sunday, April 18 – AAMI Park, Melbourne
The Brumbies are in a weird spot on the log. They have locked in second place and a home semi-final, but with just one game remaining they can neither catch the Reds nor be caught by anyone behind them. As such, how seriously will they take this game against the Rebels, one that will be a preview of the semi-final (albeit in Canberra as opposed to Melbourne) should log positions hold.
The Brumbies will want to rebound from their second defeat of the season at the hands of the Reds with a win here. The Brumbies bring in four players to their bench, with the likes of Reesjan Pasito and Will Miller looking to inject themselves in a positive way when they hit the park.
The Rebels will welcome back Wallabies No. 8 Isi Naisarani from the bench in his first match of the season. His return will be a welcome one as skipper Dane Haylett-Petty will miss out as he continues his return from a concussion. He is joined on the sideline by another injured Wallaby in Reece Hodge. Hodge will be replaced in the lineup at No. 15 by Tom Pincus.
The Rebels face the ‘Tahs on the final day and a win here would see them playing with house money. The Brumbies should have enough to win it, but I do like the Rebels to cover the 6.5 point spread at 0.90 with BetXChange. If you do fancy a flutter on an underdog to win straight up, then this is the best game of the four (Super Rugby Au/Aotearoa) to go with this weekend.