Article

Rebels must defy history to beat Waratahs

28 February 2013 01:49

The Rebels have never beaten the Waratahs and that statement is likely to still ring true at full-time on Friday night.

VENUE & TIME: Allianz Stadium, Sydney, Friday March 1, 7.20pm (AEDT)

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 4 – Waratahs 4, Rebels 0

LAST TIME: April 21, 2012 (Sydney) – Waratahs 30-21 Rebels (round 9)

WALKING WOUNDED: The Waratahs have made two changes after the loss to the Reds. Mitchell Chapman will start at lock for Sitaleki Timani (corked leg). Benn Robinson returns at starting loosehead after being controversially benched for the season-opener. Adam Ashley-Cooper is expected to play despite suffering a neck injury last weekend. Rebels skipper Gareth Delve will miss with a shoulder injury forcing a back-row reshuffle. Lock Cayderne Neville is elevated to the starting side, with Luke Jones shifting to blindside flanker and Scott Higginbotham to number eight. James O'Connor will wear the captain's armband after being cleared of concussion while Kurtley Beale is on track to play despite injuring his shoulder last weekend.

FORM: The Waratahs fought back from a 17-3 deficit to draw level with the Reds on the hour. Michael Cheika's men got back in the contest by embracing their new coach's expansive game plan but quickly retreated back into their shells when the game was there to be won. They missed 45 tackles and produced 24 handling errors en route to a 25-17 defeat – their ninth loss in a row dating back to last season. The Rebels beat the Force in Round 1 and were in the contest against the Brumbies, leading 13-12 at half-time. But their lack of depth was exposed in the second half when O'Connor (concussion) was not allowed back on the field, while Beale (shoulder) and James Higginbotham (neck) battled on bravely but were both hampered by injuries. The Brumbies ran in 18-unanswered points to inflict a 30-13 defeat on Damien Hill's men.

WHO'S HOT: Waratahs lock Kane Douglas held his own against the Reds while Wycliff Palu looks fit and is also in good early-season form. Rebels duo Beale and O'Connor both looked dangerous before suffering injuries in the second stanza. The Wallabies duo must continue their promising form for Melbourne to have any hope on Friday night.

WE THINK: The Rebels have never beaten the Waratahs and that statement will still ring true at full-time on Friday night. Any side with Beale and O'Connor in it are always a chance to win any game, but the Waratahs will be better for last week's run and will be out to make a statement in front of their fickle fans in the first home match of the campaign. The Rebels will make them earn victory but the Waratahs will be too strong across the park. Waratahs by 12.

TEAMS:

Waratahs: 15. Israel Folau, 14. Tom Kingston, 13. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12. Tom Carter, 11. Drew Mitchell, 10. Bernard Foley, 9. Brendan McKibbin, 8. Wycliff Palu, 7. Michael Hooper, 6. Dave Dennis (c), 5. Kane Douglas, 4. Mitchell Chapman, 3. Sekope Kepu, 2. Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1. Benn Robinson.

Reserves: 16. John Ulugia, 17. Jeremy Tilse, 18. Paddy Ryan, 19. Sitaleki Timani, 20. Lopeti Timani, 21. Matt Lucas, 22. Ben Volavola.


Rebels: 15. James O'Connor (c), 14. Lachlan Mitchell, 13. Mitch Inman, 12. Rory Sidey, 11. Richard Kingi, 10. Kurtley Beale, 9. Nick Phipps, 8. Scott Higginbotham, 7. Scott Fuglistaller, 6. Luke Jones, 5. Cadeyrn Neville, 4. Hugh Pyle, 3. Laurie Weeks, 2. Ged Robinson, 1. Nic Henderson.

Reserves: 16. Shota Horie, 17. Paul Alo-Emile, 18. Jordy Reid, 19. Jarrod Saffy, 20. Nic Stirzaker, 21. Angus Roberts, 22. Tom English.

REFEREE: Rohan Hoffmann

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