Melbourne Rebels are finally back hosting on home turf at AAMI Park. It has been over a year since the Rebels unable to host here due to COVID. Which saw their games in 2020 played in Sydney.
Their opponents will be the NSW Waratahs who have yet to win. Three straight losses in this 2021 Super Rugby AU run. The first two were away and the third at home in Parramatta. But they won against the Rebels before late last year 1 v 1. After losing the 1st meeting at the SCG.
Cabous Eloff & Pone Faamasulli in the props. Alongside James Hanson as the starting hooker. Steve Cummins back as the first lock. Where he replaces Ross Haylett-Petty in the 4 shirt. After RHP was given a red card last week v Western Force away. So Ross will be out for a couple of weeks. Trevor Hosea always retains alongside Cummins. So does Josh Kemeny & Richard Hardwick at flanker. As Michael Wells rounds off their forwards.
Joe Powell at half-back with Matt Toomua as 1st five-eighth. Marika Koroibete on the left wing. Lachie Anderson on the other flank. Reece Hodge & Stacey Ili on the midfield. And Tom Pincus at full-back.
Jordan Uelese is now back from injury sustained in Week 2. But Hanson did well last week so will he have to wait. Matt Gibbon & Lucio Sordoni in the props. As Tom Nowlan behind both Cummins & Hosea. Robert Leota either at flanker or No.8. James Tuttle behind Joe Powell as reserve half-back. Glen Vaihu at backup fly-half for Toomua. And Frank Lomani caps off the Rebels 23 at utility back.
Harry Johnson-Holmes & Tetere Faulkner in the props. Dave Porecki holds on at hooker. Hugh Sinclair & Sam Caird as second rowers. Lachie Swinton & Carlo Tizzano at the flankers. And Jack Dempsey rounds off the Tahs forwards.
Jack Grant stays at 9 while Jake Gordon recovers. Will Harrison at fly-half. James Ramm on the left wing. Alongside Jack Maddocks in the other flank. Tepai Moeroa & Alex Newsome both at centre midfield. And Mark Nawaqanitawase retains at full-back to complete their XV.
Tom Horton looks to gain some minutes & outclass Porecki. George Francis & Darcy Breen in the props. Sam Wykes in for either Sinclair or Caird. Jeremy Williams at flanker or No.8. Henry Robertson as reserve half-back. So does Tame Edmed behind Will Harrison. And Lakalai Foketi conpletes the Waratahs 23 man squad.
It will be interesting to see how the Rebels respond at their home turf. They know how to build the foundations in defense.
As shown in all of their games. And help gift penalty goals off Matt Toomua at fly-half. But they need to show the 2nd part more in the attack. It is good that they won v Force. Especially in a low-scoring game last week. If they can show more executions along the way. Then the Rebels will give the home fans a lot to cheer.
While the Waratahs desperately need to find some form. Having been the only side who have yet to win. They always to get the lead early. Which is a strength the Tahs carry against any opposition team.
But they just need to remain patient & cut down the discipline. The Tahs have a couple of talented youngsters coming through. Some now able to hold their starting spots. If they can identify the Rebels lack of attacking awareness. And look out to strike down in return. Where the opposition do not tend to score that big. Then we may see a Tahs win at last.
In a game where both sides needed to get the ball rolling. I am tipping the Rebels to win by three points v Waratahs at home.