Super Rugby Preview – Rebels vs ForceAuthor: Nick | Filed under: Match Previews, Super Rugby
FRIDAY 15 FEBRUARY
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more inauspicious opening game to kick off this years edition of Super Rugby. The Rebels (13th) and the Force (14th) were the two worst teams in Super Rugby 2012 that are still swanning about this season (the Lions having been banished by the Kings).
This weekend may not mean much in the lives of Saffas and Kiwis but for those who come from a land down under, it’s on like Donkey Kong! Friday sees the Melbourne Rebels face off against the Western Force with battle taking place at AAMI Park in Melbourne and the home team would surely be looking to score an early victory against the largely unexciting/ massively boring Perth rugby club.
The Rebels have not exactly been jetsetters in their short Super Rugby history finishing stone last in 2011 and then a pitiful 13th in 2012 but to their credit, they have shown that when they lay off the tweeting and focus on rugby that they have the ability to knock out the big guns. Toward the latter end of the 2012 season they started to gel almost as well as James O’Connor’s hair and with many of their standout players staying fit (amazingly), they could be looking to take the Rebelution one step further.
Kurtley Beale will start in the number 10 jersey and will undoubtedly bewilder any defensive structure with his dance moves and sleek hairstyle. Meanwhile O’Connor had 18 stitches in his face following the Force’s two-point loss in their trial against the Hurricanes last weekend. “He’s not quite as pretty as he was so I think Rabs (O’Connor) might be going to push a new tough-guy image,” was Gareth Delve‘s response. The injury is a setback but O’Connor says he’s good to go and desperate to re-ignite his 2012 bromance with Beale after seeing all the attention that Quade Cooper & Sonny-Bill Williams have been receiving.
Nonsense aside, both of these players racked up plenty of Fantasy points last year in a team that racked up plenty of losses. Up front there are a few considerably sized humans including Cadeyrn Neville who happens to be one of the most mobile lock forwards around, he likes to carry the ball and his hobbies include scoring tries and introducing defenders to the floor. However, lurking on the side of the scrum is another powerhouse ball carrier – Scott Higginbotham. One would have to wonder why he would leave the Reds to join a team that finished 13th last year and we at FRS have decided that it probably has something to do with garnering hairstyling tips from the serial poster boys in the Melbourne outfit.
Overall, you’d have to say that slowly but surely, the Rebels appear to be piecing together a very capable side – they should not be overlooked nor should they be mocked. (We’re kidding – mock away!)
Well, first off, we’d like to say good luck to the Western Force this season – they should hopefully find some sort of direction under the guidance of the discarded former Waratahs coach, Michael Foley. However, that direction is likely to be south. The season has already had a rocky start with captain Matt Hodgson picking up a hamstring injury that will put him out of at least their first 2 games. Even before the the loss of their skipper we mentioned in our team preview the loss of the 2 biggest stalwarts to ever don the illustrious Western Force jersey – David Pocock (who has been lured to Brumbie-land) and Nathan Sharpe (who is thankfully taking his whinging somewhere else).
It hasn’t been all one way traffic out of Perth, the powers that be have been able to con a few gullible chaps into signing up for the circus including Alby Mathewson who managed to leave a bad side to join a truly awful side. Although he is a noteworthy signing, it’s unlikely the Kiwi halfback will win the whole competition by himself. The Force have also picked Sias Ebersohn up off the floor; hopefully he will kick better when he’s upside down. Former Waratah giraffe, Sam Norton-Knight has also joined the fray giving them a few options at flyhalf but their team is currently looking as threatening as a box of rusks.
However, all is not lost from a Fantasy perspective because the Force possess one player who was surely forged in the deepest, darkest depths of Middle Earth itself – Nick Cummins. The Honey Badger has been known to froth at the mouth when shown a rugby ball has been classified as “Highly Insane” by our resident FRS psychologist but when you look beyond his obvious instability, you have one mean rugby player! The Force will look for solace in their 46-0 drubbing of a Tonga Select XV (select any players in a 1 mile radius?) in the warm up to the season but one feels that beating the crap out of no-name international team is not going to compensate for much when it comes crunch time.
The Aussie franchise have lost more players than we could care to mention and besides the aforementioned scrummie, some new flyhalf options and one crazy mo-fo they haven’t exactly crossed off all their bingo numbers. It’s going to be a long season, starting in Melbourne.
These teams have a massive historical rivalry extending way back to 2011. They squared off 4 times with the Rebels bagging 3 wins, and the Force collecting a solitary win – advantage Rebels. However, what is of interest (surprisingly, these 2 teams have managed to spark a little bit of interest) is that all of the hat-trick of Rebels’ victories have all been by a margin of a single point.
Given that it is week 1 of Super Rugby, anything is possible except for 1 thing and that’s a Force victory. REBELS to record the 1st W of 2013!
Shaun reckons the Force will get a good hiding by at least 10 points.
Nick thinks it’ll be closer than that, but not as tight as history suggests, 7 points.
Fantasy Managers Note
The Bookies have given the Force a 6.5 point start for the game.
The Force are 3:1 underdogs for the match.
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