Round 7 of Super Rugby AU features a pair of matches being played in Queensland. Friday night sees the Western Force taking on the Waratahs on the Gold Coast, while Saturday’s clash has the Reds hosting the Rebels at Suncorp in Brisbane. The Brumbies are the team on a bye this weekend.
Here is a look at the two games:
Western Force vs. Waratahs
Friday, August 14 – Cnus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
The Force are back from their bye week and they are more cast off at the bottom of the table than ever. They are winless in their four matches and have just a couple of bonus points to show for the first half of their return to the Super Rugby landscape.
The Waratahs are in the thick of contention for the second and third-placed spots and a shot at the title via the three-team playoff system. They have two wins and three defeats from five games, while their ability to pick up bonus points – they have three which is the most in the comp – puts them in joint third on the ladder with 11 points, tied with the Reds.
The Force have used the bye to reevaluate and they are making seven changes to the matchday 23 here. The biggest news is the return of captain and scrum-half Ian Prior in a move that sees Nick Frisby drop to the bench. The biggest changes are in the loose forwards where Brynard Stander is the only player retaining his place. He will be joined in the run-on XV by Kane Koteka and Henry Stowers.
The Waratahs know a win here would put pressure on the teams around them in the playoff chase. They see the return of veteran lock Rob Simmons with Ned Hanigan dropping to the bench. Their only other change will give a starting debut to prop Tetera Faulkner.
The Force were unlucky not to win last time out and at 2.40 with BetXChange there is some value there for an upset. The Waratahs are -9.5 (0.95) if you want to play them minus the points after maybe the best performance of the entire comp one week ago.
Reds vs. Rebels
Saturday, August 15 – Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
The host Reds are tied with the Waratahs on 11 competition points after two wins, two defeats, and one draw so far this year. The Rebels find themselves in second spot on the ladder with 14 points but wins by the Reds and the ‘Tahs this weekend would knock the Rebs down to fourth place and – temporarily at least – out of the playoff spots. This is a huge game in terms of setting up the ladder for the final two games of the season for each of the contending teams.
The Reds are making four changes for this game and they start in the front row after Dane Zander was ruled out for the season with a knee injury picked up in training. Other changes include two in the back three, with Jordan Petaia returning on the wing and Jock Campbell entering the starting XV at fullback.
The Rebels beating the Brumbies last weekend upset the order as the ACT side looked to be running away from the pack. They have made just two changes to the team that was so impressive a week ago as Charlie Abel and Michael Wells find themselves named amongst the reserves.
Other than the Reds being at home it makes no sense for them to be favored here. They have lost two on the bounce after a good start to the season while the Rebels – by contrast – are on a three-game winning streak. Take the Melbournians at 1.35 with BetXChange to spring the upset.