Super Rugby Preview – Brumbies vs RedsAuthor: Nick | Filed under: Match Previews, Super Rugby
Saturday 16 February
If ever there was a grudge match at the start of the season then the Brumbies vs Reds is the perfect one. Towards the end of the 2012 round robins, the Brumbies looked all set to top the Aussie conference before the Reds (Read: Cooper & Genia) strung together a 6 match winning streak! The little engine that could, didn’t; the ACT boys were unceremoniously kicked to the curb to join Lance Armstrong in the losers circle. However, the chance for retribution is nigh. It was this very fixture that was the turning point last year; it’s only Round 1 but the stakes are already higher than a hippie in a helicopter.
Jake Whites’ Brumbies squad has changed about as much as the Bulls game plan has since 1972. At this point last year, people like Jesse Mogg and Henry Speight were virtual no-name brand rugby players and the Brumbies looked set to have one of those “re-building” seasons; but Jake “The Magician” White had other ideas. The Brumbies flummoxed the rugby world and Jake dug up so much Fantasy gold he could make his own pimp chain.
Jesse Mogg is an awkward looking fella and therein lies his strength, seemingly slow and uncoordinated he has gas to burn with the ball skills of MJ in the 90′s (that’s Michael Jordan, the other one would just be wrong). Moggy, as the fans call him, is the drunken master of the rugby world (figuratively, not literally – we’re talking kung fu here folks!). Henry Speight was yet another gem unearthed on the most barren continent in the world and he has the knack of showing up where it matters most – on the receiving end of the try-scoring pass. It probably also helps that he can outrun a Pagani Zonda.
Turning to the forwards, Michael Hooper is no longer with the Brumbies but they have Hooper 2.0, David Pocock is now in ACT to snap necks and cash cheques! Seldom is there any space in a team for 2 fetchers and if it came down to ball skills between the 2 of them, you’d have to say that Pocock has the edge. Up front, you need look no further than the prolific try-scoring combination of Ben Alexander and the man with the most polished head in Super Rugby, Stephen Moore.
Lastly, the Brumbies have one final “Hail Mary” to throw at the opposition this season – his name is Clyde Rathbone. Everyone is talking about Rattlebones, we documented it in our Brumbies preview and it’s all over the Aussie news. If ever there was an expectation, then look no further than the guy in the number 14 jersey this Saturday.
To sum it up, the Brumbies were young and dumb last year and tripped at the final hurdle. Rest assured, Jake White will not allow his troops to be fooled twice – they are looking to pick up where they left off and then some.
The Reds Quade Cooper / Will Genia masterpiece will be vital to this team for pretty much the whole season – you can’t have one without the other. Cooper has indulged himself in some pre-season training in the form of boxing and although we were mightily impressed by his 1st round knockout, one has to consider that his opponent was built like Postman Pat – you get the impression that his punch would have far less impact on someone like Fotu Auelua. Nonetheless, we all know that Cooper has the skills to feature on “Strictly Come Dancing” and we expect he’ll rely on those skills yet again this Saturday.
Genia will feature as one of the all-time greats and would not look out of place amongst Justin Marshall, Fourie Du Preez and George Gregan. Unfortunately for the Reds he is still recovering from surgery on his knee and will be replaced by Ben Lucas for the first 5 rounds. Lucas has been quoted as saying the absence of Genia will not affect the Reds chances, thanks Ben, but we’re not so sure… Further down the backline, the Queensland boys have some serious muscle in the form of Mike “Mikey Mike” Harris and with a nickname as original as that, he’s untouchable. On top of the giant centre, the Reds also have the original Tasmanian Devil on the wing in the form of Digby Ioane – this guy should come with a warning label like “Warning: Do not feed the animal” or “Warning: Do not add caffeine”. He does not know when to stop and you get the impression that he does not actually know how to stop – but that makes him one hell of an exciting rugby player to watch! Up front the Reds have some considerable grunt – James Slipper is one angry fat kid! Beau Robinson and Liam Gill make a formidable combination in the loosies and how can one ever forget the evergreen giant human, Radike Samo! It has been announced that regular captain James Horwill will not be available for the match but Brumbies coach Jake White has dismissed that talk as absolute BS after believing that Quade Cooper would play no part in last year’s 13-12 loss (Note: QC played every single minute of that match after it was announced that he wouldn’t even make it out of the team hotel on match day – in fact, he pretty much won that match).
So, some smoke and mirrors combined with some serious skill and firepower and you have a team known as the Queensland Reds. Will they be able to front up to what is going to be an explosive grudge match – only time will tell.
These 2 teams have done battle 20 times in Super Rugby history with the Brumbies claiming a mammoth 16 wins! With no draws ever taking place that leaves 4 wins for the Reds but what is important is that 2 of those wins were recorded last year with score lines of 13-12 and 20-13 which are not exactly attractive in Fantasy terms.
Both teams ooze class and on the surface, these are the only 2 contenders in the Aussie conference race. Jake White has already labeled this a grudge match and has asked the Canberra faithful to come out in numbers to provide some serious rabble and rattle the Reds. It could be a mistaken case of playing the man and not the ball, but The Magician is far too clever for that… and Genia is far too injured. BRUMBIES to make paydirt!
Tight match – less than 5 points.
Fantasy Managers Notes
This is a tight game and if you’re feeling brave, back the Reds for the away win – this game can go either way but we’ve backed the Brumbies on the basis of home ground advantage. Fantasy points may be hard to come by as this fixture is usually a low scoring encounter.
The Bookies have given the Reds a 3 point start for the game, if Mogg and co get into their stride they’ll lose by a few more than that.
The Reds are slight 3:2 underdogs for the match.
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