Sydney’s big wet will drench the Queensland Reds and NSW Waratahs on Friday night but still expect plenty of fire between two teams with plenty to prove at Leichhardt Oval.
Is this a real Waratahs' revival? Can the Reds shake up their spluttering attack to go with their smothering, effective defence?
The new Super Rugby Pacific competition is up-and-running without any upsets in Round One. Will Round Two be different? Let’s take a look.
Super Rugby Round 2 Betting Tips
NSW Waratahs v Queensland Reds
Fri, Feb 25, Leichhardt Oval, Sydney 7.45pm (AEDT)
Wet conditions can be a great leveler so that is the first factor in play on Friday night. The bookies have the line at around 5.5 pts with the Waratahs getting the start.
The Reds are better rehearsed at different game styles because this group of players have been together for a long time now. Against the Rebels last weekend, the Reds did make regular ground when they reverted to pick-and-drive plays in tight which will be big on the menu tonight. Watch for big No.8 Harry Wilson exploding off a short ball around the ruckbase and flanker Fraser McReight to have a great battle with Waratahs rival Charlie Gamble. The Reds have learnt that patience pays off. A more formative squad like the Waratahs doesn’t yet have that ingrained.
The Reds have taken some backline injuries and they lack big bodies to make metres in the backs on a heavy ground. Winger Jordie Petaia needs to play a strong role in getting his team over the advantage line.
By comparison, Waratahs centres Izaia Perese and Lalakai Foketi are used as two of the team’s real go-forward guys. One thing that Reds centres Hamish Stewart and Josh Flook can do is tackle.
Halfback captains Tate McDermott (Reds) and Jake Gordon (Waratahs) are both terrific, sniping runners and one key break could be decisive tonight.
The Waratahs upset the Reds 21-14 in a trial in Roma earlier this month. More of that direct, abrasive play and Ben Donaldson’s smart distribution can get them close in this one.
Reds by a try. If you are looking for Anytime Tryscorers, hookers Alex Mafi and Dave Porecki will have chances to maul the ball over from lineout drives.
ACT Brumbies v Fijian Drua
Sat, Feb 26, GIO Stadium, Canberra, 2.35pm (AEDT)
A clearcut Brumbies win in store because they will be too ruthless with their mauling lineout drives and scrum work. We tipped two lineout drives would be in the Brumbies’ scoring last weekend and we were spot on. TAB.com.au is not taking any risks with Brumbies hooker Lachie Lonergan at a tight $7 to be first tryscorer in just that fashion.
Rain isn’t going to enhance the Fijian’s passing flair. They can’t win in an attritional game.
It’s a shame because an afternoon kick-off is really made for them.
The Drua are still working out their best formation with centre Caleb Muntz moving to flyhalf for this one.
Brumbies fullback Tom Banks showed some excellent footwork to beat defenders against the Force. He’ll be a real threat again. Likewise, winger Tom Wright who has silky moves. Both are tryscoring chances when the Brumbies play smart and use the shortside.
Melbourne Rebels v Western Force
Sat, Feb 26, AAMI Park, Melbourne 7.45pm (AEDT)
The Rebels were poor in their 23-5 loss to the Reds last weekend when redheaded flanker Brad Wilkin was really one of the few to perform.
There is no cavalry just yet with Wallabies Andrew Kellaway and Rob Leota still to return from injury.
The Rebels have made a big call in dropping flyhalf Carter Gordon to the bench after just one game. That’s no way to ignite confidence after being so positive about his progress all pre-season. He dropped the first pass against the Reds and had an unsatisfying game but surely you let him rebuild from that.
The Rebels have instead shifted veteran Wallaby Matt Toomua to No.10 and playmaker.
After going within two minutes of a grand upset of the Brumbies in Canberra last Sunday, this really is a match the Western Force must win to show they are a team of consistently high standards.
Lock Izack Rodda and Fergus Lee-Warner were terrific in the pack against the Brumbies and must be again. The Rebels have gone for experience at flyhalf. The Force are backing young gun Reesjan Pasitoa, 20, who made a promising start as a Force player last weekend.
The Force never get their own way against the Rebels. A 16-15 win last April broke a run of three losses. If the Force are to be top eight contenders, this has to be a W.
Highlanders v Crusaders - Sevu Reece Anytime Tryscorer ($1.72 at Ladbrokes)
Blues v Hurricanes - Hurricanes H2H ($3.00 TAB.com.au)