The final round of matches in Super Rugby AU sees a dead rubber at the top of the table between the Reds and the Brumbies in Queensland. It also features a match with much more on the line in Newcastle as the Western Force play their last Super Rugby game for the time being against a Rebels side that they almost beat a month ago in the reverse fixture.
Here is a look at the two games:
Rebels vs. Western Force
Saturday, September 5 – McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
The Force’s implosion over the second half of the season isn’t that much of a shock given where they were as a franchise just three months ago when Super Rugby Au was first proposed. They picked up two points before their second bye week, but they have been poor the rest of the way – ironically after losing to these Rebels in Super Time in Round 5.
The Rebels lost the battle against the Waratahs last week 38-32, but they picked up a bonus point that was crucial to their chances of leaping the Sydneysiders to move to third in the table at the end of Round 10. They are just four points behind the idle ‘Tahs and they know that a win here by four points or more will see them in the playoffs against the Reds next weekend.
The Rebels will be boosted by the news that captain Dane Haylett-Petty will return at fullback after a month out with a knee injury. His return shifts Reece Hodge to 13 to play alongside Billy Meakes and Matt Toomua is back in the pivot position. The Force will make just a couple of changes with Brynard Stander back in at openside and Byron Ralson set to start on the right-wing.
The Rebels will win this as the Force haven’t been competitive in over a month. Take them -14.5 (0.90) on BetXChange as they get over early nerves and run riot.
Reds vs. Brumbies
Saturday, September 5 – Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
The Brumbies have booked a week off for finishing top of the log while the Reds are locked into second place and will take on either the Waratahs or the Rebels next weekend.
That means that while this is technically a dead rubber the Reds players will be looking to impress to make Brad Thorn’s job more difficult in picking a semi-final side. One particular area to watch is in the backline where Chris Feauai-Sautia and Hunter Paisami have recovered from injuries to take their places at wing and on the bench respectively here. Jordan Petia will be playing at outside center with Josh Flook out for the rest of the campaign.
The Brumbies are also loading up for the finals as Tevita Kuirdrani is back at No. 13 with Solomone Kata on the bench. Wallaby scrum-half Nic White is also back in the starting lineup ahead of Joe Powell who is out of the squad for this one. Scott Sio and Folau Fainga’a will both start in the front row.
This is a hard one to call. The Brumbies pipped the Reds 22-20 in Round 5 and you feel that the Reds need to get their win back here in order to have confidence going up against the ladder winners in a potential final. Lean to the Reds at 0.86 here.