We’re almost halfway through the Super Rugby AU season and with both Round 4 fixtures carrying plenty of weight, all eyes will be on Perth and Canberra this weekend.
In Friday night’s opening clash, the Western Force will play host to the Melbourne Rebels at HBF Park.
The Force are flying high after breaking a nine-game losing streak in Super Rugby AU and should enter as favourites following their 20-17 upset over the winless Waratahs last week.
Injury and suspension has forced coach Tim Sampson to ring the changes with in-form Tim Anstee and Andrew Ready among the omissions, however, former Test lock Sitaleki Timani is a welcome addition to the side.
A third successive away game won’t help Melbourne’s chances but Rebels coach Dave Wessels’ is keeping faith with the side who went down in Canberra last week.
Frank Lomani and Rob Leota drop off the bench in the only changes to Melbourne’s squad with interim skipper Matt Toomua set to again spearhead the Rebels attack.
WESTERN FORCE (1-15): Tom Robertson, Feleti Kaitu’u, Santiago Medrano, Jeremy Thrush, Ryan Mccauley, Fergus Lee Warner, Kane Koteka, Brynard Stander (C), Tomas Cubelli, Jake Mcintyre, Marcel Brache, Richard Kahui, Tevita Kuridrani, Byron Ralston, Robert Kearney
RESERVES: Jack Winchester, Angus Wagner, Greg Holmes, Sitaleki Timani, Tomas Lezana, Ian Prior, Henry Taefu & Jack Mcgregor
INs: Ryan McCauley, Marcel Brache, Jack Winchester, Sitaleki Timani, Henry Taefu and Jack McGregor
OUTs: Tim Anstee, Toni Pulu, Andrew Ready and Domingo Miotti
MELBOURNE REBELS (1-15): Cabous Eloff, James Hanson, Pone Faamausili, Ross Haylett-Petty, Trevor Hosea, Joshua Kemeny, Richard Hardwick, Michael Wells, Joe Powell, Matt To’omua (C), Marika Koroibete, Reece Hodge, Stacey Ili, Lachlan Anderson, Tom Pincus
RESERVES: Ed Craig, Isaac Aedo Kailea, Lucio Sordoni, Steve Cummins, Glen Vaihu, James Tuttle
OUTs: Frank Lomani, Rob Leota
If there’s one game you don’t want to miss in Super Rugby AU 2021, it’s Saturday night’s grand final rematch between the Brumbies and Reds.
The reigning champion Brumbies are 3-0 after last week’s great escape against the Rebels while 2020 runner-ups Reds are 2-0 after home wins over the Waratahs and Rebels.
Both sides have delivered similar performances across the opening three rounds and while Queensland are coming off the bye, ACT must be favourites given their strong home record.
The Brumbies will be without skipper Allan Alaalatoa (suspension) and fellow front rower Connal McInerney (injury) but welcome back Test hooker Folau Fainga’a among a swathe of pack changes that sees veteran flanker Tom Cusack take the interim captaincy.
Meanwhile, Reds coach Brad Thorn has pulled centre Hamish Stewart from the match-day 23 entirely after starting both earlier games with Hunter Paisami and Jordan Petaia set to combine in the midfield.
League convert Suliasi Vunivalu has also been named to make his starting debut on the wing for Queensland.
BRUMBIES (1-15): Scott Sio, Folau Fainga’a, Tom Ross, Darcy Swain, Cadeyrn Neville, Rob Valetini, Tom Cusack (c), Pete Samu, Nic White, Noah Lolesio, Mack Hansen, Irae Simone, Len Ikitau, Andy Muirhead, Tom Banks
RESERVES: Lachlan Lonergan, Harry Lloyd, Archer Holz, Nick Frost, Jahrome Brown, Ryan Lonergan, Reesjan Pasitoa, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa
INs: Folau Fainga’a, Archer Holz, Nick Frost, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa
OUTs: Connal McInerney, Allan Alaalatoa, James Tucker, Solomone Kata
QUEENSLAND REDS (1-15): Dane Zander, Alex Mafi, Taniela Tupou, Angus Blyth, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Angus Scott-Young, Fraser McReight, Harry Wilson, Tate McDermott, James O’Connor (c), Filipo Daugunu, Hunter Paisami, Jordan Petaia, Suliasi Vunivalu, Jock Campbell
RESERVES: Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Harry Hoopert, Zane Nonggorr, Ryan Smith, Seru Uru, Moses Sorovi, Bryce Hegarty, Josh Flook
INs: Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Zane Nonggorr, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Josh Flook
OUTs: Hamish Stewart, Sam Wallis, Josh Nasser, Feao Fotuaika