After completing the double of the Brumbies this season, the Reds will be in confident mood heading into this weekend's Super Rugby AU final.
Queensland Reds v Brumbies
Saturday 8 May
To Win (80 Mins)
Reds (-3.5) 9/10
Brumbies (+3.5) 9/10
Brad Thorn’s men have enjoyed a great season. The former All Black has worked tirelessly since taking over the reins at the franchise and while it has been a bumpy ride at times – Quade Cooper’s axing at the start of Thorn’s tenure which was met with shock. But it now seems the Reds are about to come full circle and end a 10-year Super Rugby trophy drought.
The last hurdle for the Reds to overcome is a Brumbies side they have already beaten twice this year running out 24-22 victors in Queensland and 38-40 winners in Canberra.
Unlike their opponents for this weekend, the Reds head into this fixture off of a bye as they topped the log at the end of the regular season which meant they automatically qualified for the final. They did have a poor time of it in their last fixture going down by three points to the Force. It must be noted, though, that they did field a weakened side in this fixture.
In a surprise move, Jame O’Connor has been named captain with Liam Wright relegated to the bench. Lock, Ryan Smith also returns to the side which means that Angus Scott-Young will pack down at six. In the backs, Josh Flook comes into the starting XV in place of Hunter Paisami who has a fractured bone in his face. Jock Campbell has also got over a hamstring niggle to return to the wing.
Reds XV: Feao Fotuaika, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Taniela Tupou, Ryan Smith, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Angus Scott-Young, Fraser McReight, Harry Wilson, Tate McDermott, James O’Connor (c), Jock Campbell, Hamish Stewart, Josh Flook, Jordan Petaia, Bryce Hegarty
Bench: Alex Mafi, Dane Zander, Zane Nonggorr, Seru Uru, Liam Wright, Kalani Thomas, Isaac Henry, Filipo Daugunu
The Brumbies will be looking to break Queensland hearts by piping them to the title. They have it up against them, however, as they have already suffered defeat at the hands of their foes twice this season, albeit by narrow margins.
The visitors were nowhere near their best last weekend as they 21-9 victory over the Western Force. The scoreline actually flattered them as a couple late penalties added some gloss to proceedings.
While they’ve had a poor record against the Reds this term, the Brumbies will take some spirit from last year’s inaugural Super Rugby AU final which saw them beat this weekend’s opponents 28-23.
In team news, both Pete Samu and James Slipper have been ruled out this weekend with Scott Sio and Nick Frost coming into the side. Rob Valetini shifts to number 8 with Frost packing down on the flank. The two new men on the bench are Harry Lloyd and Henry Stowers.
Brumbies XV: Scott Sio, Lachlan Lonergan, Allan Alaalatoa (c), Darcy Swain, Cadeyrn Neville, Nick Frost, Rory Scott, Rob Valetini, Nic White, Noah Lolesio, Tom Wright, Irae Simone, Len Ikitau, Andy Muirhead, Tom Banks
Bench: Folau Fainga’a, Harry Lloyd, Tom Ross, Henry Stowers, Luke Reimer, Ryan Lonergan, Reesjan Pasitoa, Mack Hansen
Verdict: Reds 11/20
This is likely to be an extremely tight affair as both meetings between these sides have been this year. For a bit of extra value and significantly more risk, back the Brumbies on the +3.5 handicap at 9/10. Either way, I reckon the Reds will bag this year’s Super Rugby AU title.