Darry Worthington takes a look at Round 2 of the 2021 Super Rugby AU season which gets underway on Friday the 26th of February.
Image Copyright – Steve Haag Sports
Things went pretty much according to book in Round 1 of Super Rugby AU with favourites the Reds and Brumbies winning their games by comfortable margins. While the two victors put in solid displays, the losing sides, the Waratahs and Force, look like they’ll have a lot of work to do if they want to mix it with the big boys this term. The Force will have two weeks to regroup as they enjoy a bye weekend this week, while the Waratahs will be looking for immediate improvement when they take on reigning champions, the Brumbies.
The other fixture this weekend will see the Melbourne Rebels get their campaign underway with a tricky away game against last year’s tournament runners-up, the Queensland Reds.
Queensland Reds v Melbourne Rebels
Friday 26 February
To Win (80 Mins)
The Reds delivered the goods last weekend as a first-half blitz laid the platform for their 41-7 victory over the Waratahs. The Reds were aided by the Waratahs losing a man to a red-card during the first stanza of the fixture. They are likely to face a stiffer challenge from a Rebels side who made last year’s play-offs.
As touched on above, the Rebels enjoyed a decent enough time of it last year as they advanced to the play-off fixture where they were defeated 25-13 by the Reds. The Reds won one of the other two 2020 fixtures between the sides 19-3 while the remaining fixture ended in an 18-18 draw with extra time not able to settle the game.
Verdict: Reds (-)
I reckon we could well be in for a cracking game here with both sides possessing decent backlines. My money is on a late surge from the Reds seeing them past a single digits handicap.
Brumbies v NSW Waratahs
Saturday 27 February
To Win (80 Mins)
Our final fixture of the weekend pits age-old rivals the Brumbies and Waratahs up against each other. The two sides experienced contrasting fortunes in Round 1 of this year’s tournament as the Brumbies put in a mature display and beat the Force 11-27 while the Waratahs were full of panic and indiscipline as they went down 41-7 to the Reds.
The Brumbies won both of the encounters between the two sides last season edging the first fixture 23-24, while they hammered their opponents 38-11 at the GIO in the second clash.
In terms of team news, the Waratahs will be without Izaia Perese who copped a three-match ban for his dangerous tackle a dangerous tackle Perese’s fellow centre Joey Walton and captain Jack Gordon are likely to be out of action for significant periods of time with nasty looking ankle injuries.
Generally, I’d back the ‘Tahs to give the Brumbies a run. However, with the ‘Tahs missing a number of key players through injury, I reckon they’ll struggle. As such, my money is on the Brumbies clearing the handicap here.