Queensland Reds are on top of the 2021 Super Rugby AU Ladder. As of Round 7 they have won each of their games. With no losses made so far. As the winning streak would hopefully still be alive.
Melbourne Rebels on the other hand just came off a bye. Having won the last two games. Both the Western Force & NSW Waratahs. They would like to keep that winning momentum. And keep themselves in the Top 3 with four rounds left to go.
The first game of 2020 Super Rugby AU between them ended in a draw. But Reds still win 2-0. One during Round 7 19-3 & Qualifying Final 25-15 both at home. As well as the first game this year 23-21. But Reds have last won against them as a away team. That was Round 12 on 13 May 2017 where they won 24-29 in Melbourne.
Cabous Eloff & Pone Faamasulli remains in the props. Same goes to Jordan Uelese at hooker. Steve Cummins & Trevor Hosea in the second row. Protecting these first two is Josh Kemeny & Richard Hardwick at flanker. And Michael Wells rounds off the Rebels forward line at Number 8.
Joe Powell & Matt Toomua remains at 9 & 10. So does Marika Koroibete on the left wing. Reece Hodge & Stacey Ili in the midfield. Lachie Anderson replaced by Frank Lomani. As Tom Pincus rounds off the matchday XV v Reds on Saturday.
James Hanson at hooker behind Jordan Uelese. Matt Gibbon & Albert Anae in the props. Thomas Nowlan as back up for Cummins/Hosea. Rob Leota in any of the loose forward roles. James Tuttle at scrum-half. As Lewis Holland & Jeral Skelton rounds off the Rebels 23 v Reds.
Note: Rebels also added Lucio Sordoni where he plays as hooker. And Glen Vaihu as utility back. It does not mean any of the players on the bench will guarantee game time. Depending on the game and how the coach Dave Wessels dictates later on.
Feao Fotuaika in for Dane Zander at loosehead. Alongside Taniela Tupou on other prop dial at tighthead. As Brandon Paenga-Amosa retains as hooker. Ryan Smith & Lukhan Salakaia-Loto on the second row. Same goes to Angus Scott-Young & Fraser McWright. Except Seru Uru who is replaced by Harry Wilson.
Tate McDermott at half-back & James O’Connor skippers at fly-half. Jock Campbell moved from full-back to the left wing. While Jordan Petaia took the other flank. Due to the injury from Suliasi Vunivalu that will take one month. Hamish Stewart back in at inside centre alongside Hunter Paisami. And Bryce Hegarty at 15.
Alex Mafi at reserve hooker despite a hat-trick last week v Waratahs. Even though he was not the starter. Richie Asiata & Zane Nongorr in the props. Angus Blyth & Seru Uru at lock/loose forward. Kelani Thomas as reserve half-back. Josh Flook can fill-in for O’Connor if he has the chance. And Filipo Daugunu completes the Reds 23 man squad this Saturday.
Reds have a great attacking setup that can be patient on the spot. And get it done when they can. Which is exactly what they did last week for the majority v Waratahs. But they do have a couple of injuries at the same time. So they will need to overcome that slow start. As seen in most games then make up lost time. It does involve risk. But knows as long as the attack is organised then they will win.
While the Rebels have what the Reds offer in the contrary. That is the defense. They know how to spot the opposition weaknesses straightaway. And put themselves early that would go a long way. Before it would be too late to chase down. Once the points are theirs ahead of the Reds. They would like to explore further to extend their lead. And get to dismantle their defense. Just like they did to the Waratahs two weeks ago. It would exactly be the strategy come Saturday.
It will be a close game so sure at AAMI Park in Melbourne. But despite the Reds have a injury or two. Their attack for me will still stand out. So they will continue to stay undefeated and win by 7 points.