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Super Rugby: Rebels v Force Preview
The Melbourne Rebels and Western Force close out Round 14 of Super Rugby this Sunday at AAMI Park.
The Melbourne Rebels and Western Force square off in this Sunday's Australian derby. While neither side has really set the tournament alight, this game should still prove to be rather entertaining as there is no real gulf in class between the two franchises despite the seven-point gap between them on the Australian Conference.
Melbourne Rebels v Western Force | Sunday 29 May | AAMI Park | 08:05
To Win (80 Mins)
Rebels 1/4 | Draw 25/1 | Force 28/10
Rebels (-10.5) 9/10 | Force (+10.5) 9/10
Melbourne’s finest come into this one off the back of a 36-15 away defeat to the Chiefs. That was their third defeat in as many rounds with their last win coming back in April against the Cheetahs.
The Rebels are still in with a sniff of claiming top spot on the Australian Conference, although, they would need the Brumbies and Waratahs to lose the majority of their final four fixtures. While qualification for the quarter-finals is a bit of a pipe dream at present, the Rebels will know that all they can do is win games. They have a great chance of achieving a victory this weekend as they take on a side that they have a great head to head history against.
The men from Melbourne have won five out of the last seven contests between the sides. They won this year’s encounter 25-19 and could well claim the double this weekend.
The loose forward combination of Sean McMahon, Jordy Reid, and Adam Thompson will be key to the Rebels chances of getting one over the Force. The trio have been in sensational form with McMahon being the standout. The Wallaby has been brilliant in the loose nicking ball for fun and making himself an absolute menace at the breakdown.
The Force are a rather interesting prospect. They’ve played some solid rugby at times this season – running the Crusaders close and running the Sunwolves rampant out in Japan. Their lack of consistency is their biggest handicap, though. They followed up their victory over the Japenese franchise with a poor display against the Blues last week which saw them go down by four points in front of their home faithful.
Those sorts of losses are the main reason for the Force occupying last spot on the Australian Conference.
While the men from the West of Australia are out of the running for a quarter-finals berth, they will still be determined to win this one as they will desperately want to avoid the Australian Conference’s wooden spoon accolade. They do have a chance of claiming a victory here as their loose trio of Ben McCalman, Matt Hodgson, and Bynard Stander are capable of nullifying the threat posed by the Rebels’ loosies.
These men will need support from the rest of their pack however, which means the likes of Ross Haylett-Petty, Guy Millar, and Harry Scoble are going to have to up their games. They will also need their dangerous back three and, in particular, Dane Haylett-Petty, to make good use of any counter attacking opportunities that are presented to them.
The Stats That Matter
The Rebels have won five out of the last seven contests between the sides. They got the better of the Force earlier in the year running out 25-19 victors in Perth.
Both sides have negative points differentials with the Force conceding 338 points while scoring 196 and the Rebels shipping 294 points while scoring 250.
These games tend to end with a total points margin below 50 points, with the last three games seeing combined scorelines of under 45 points.
Verdict: Force (+10.5) 9/10
I can see the Force turning this game into an absolute scrap and while I can see the Rebels winning it, I don’t think it will be by a large margin. Back the visitors on the plus!