The Western Force have their finals hopes on the line in Perth and the ACT Brumbies are eager to get back to winning ways in Super Rugby Pacific in Round 8. The Queensland Reds and NSW Waratahs are both enjoying a bye after last-start wins.
Let's take a closer look at Round 8.
Super Rugby Pacific Round 8 Betting Tips
Western Force v Melbourne Rebels
Fri, Apr 8, HBF Park, Perth 7.45pm (AEST)
This one is going to be closer than the clearcut 28-3 win for the Force when these teams played in Melbourne in February. The Rebels have finally broken their 10-game losing streak and that peps up any team.
You must still fancy the Force. At 2-4, this is a match they have to win if they want to reach the top eight finals. Right now, the Hurricanes and Highlanders are behind them on the table but it won’t stay that way when those two Kiwi teams start playing Aussie sides in a few weeks.
The Force are without dynamic winger Toni Pulu after a head knock and Richard Kahui is missing too. The Force aren’t strong enough to have Wallabies lock Izack Rodda entering the game from the bench, even with time away for Wallabies camp, so we’ll see how that plays out.
The Force have to start living up to their early season promise. The Force have been fiddling around with the halfback-flyhalf combination. The wise, steady Ian Prior paired with young buck Reesjan Pasitoa looks a good one.
The Rebels had plenty of workers step up to beat the Fijian Drua 42-27 last start. Lock Matt Philip (10 ball-carries and 10 tackles) and flanker Brad Wilkin (17 tackles) were typical.
Winger Glen Vaihu is getting better and better and beating four and five defenders a game. Try-time for Vaihu is overdue. TAB.com.au have him at $2.40 for an Anytime Try. Like it.
Fijian Drua v ACT Brumbies
Sat, Apr 9, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane 7.45pm (AEST)
The crazy road trip for the Fijian Drua continues. The Drua have played at six venues in six different Australian cities to get back to Suncorp Stadium where they lost in the final minutes to the Reds in Round 4.
The Fijians have admirably kept up their intensity and fervour but there will be a dip at some stage.
The Brumbies were dominant 42-3 winners when the sides met in Canberra in Round 2 before the Fijians really started finding their groove.
The set piece strengths of the Brumbies will always cause headaches for the Drua. A strong scrum, an insatiable appetite for rolling mauls off 5m lineouts and the Brumbies look good.
The Brumbies fielded their top strength side in Round 2. Saturday’s pack is five players removed from their best pack because of a few calculated changes, rotations and niggles. Dominance may be more muted this time.
The Brumbies were chastened by their poor play to lose to the Reds last weekend. They made 19 turnovers in all and did not score a try or even a point after the 22-minute mark.
That’s not good enough for coach Dan McKellar or the players. They will be out to remedy things.
There’s an interesting move in the backline with Wallabies winger Tom Wright shifting to fullback to cover injured pair Tom Banks and Jesse Mogg.
Losing captain and key flanker Nemani Nagusa to suspension is a major blow for the Fijians.
The Brumbies look too good but fielding less than their best team gives the Drua a shot at ruffling them for periods if the men from Canberra get a bit ragged.