Round 10 of the Super Rugby season is set to be an exciting one with the action getting underway on Friday night! Check out our full preview and betting tips for both games across the weekend, courtesy of Jim Tucker, here.
Western Force vs Queensland Reds
Fri, April 23, HBF Park, Perth 7:45pm (AEST)
Everything is not as it seems between a Reds side running hot at 7-0 and the Western Force (3-4). The Reds are locked into a home final already on May 8 so this match counts only for pride in the jersey and striking the right form as build-up. The Reds could mentally be a step off the pace which is one reason why coach Brad Thorn has included non-stop standards-driver Angus Scott-Young at lock even if he is the shortest lock in Super Rugby AU. He’ll whip the pack along. The Reds are fielding their top backrow for the first time this season with Liam Wright back beside Fraser McReight and Harry Wilson. The backline has a slick formation even without the injured Jock Campbell and Suliasi Vunivalu. Be more worried about the Reds’ bench. It’s tamer and younger than normal and back-up props Zane Nonggorr and Richie Asiata are weak links if called upon early.
The Force won the first half scrum battle in Brisbane in March and hustled their way to a 26-19 loss. The more scrums the merrier as far as the Force is concerned. The Force can at least get close in this one. They have everything to play for. Win and they are through to the finals. Even fighting all the way to a single bonus point might be enough. Having as many experienced players in the line-up will help with composure because the Force haven’t been in this position before. They could get spooked if a possible win appears.
Having Ireland’s Rob Kearney back at fullback is a plus and there are six players on the bench who can give the side a real lift over the final 30 minutes. An upset is not out of the question. For all their spirit and ball-winning, the big mark-down on the Force is that they struggle to score tries. They’ve only managed 11 in seven games so there is just no proof of the firepower needed to hurt the Reds. The Reds have scored 30 tries in seven games and four times rushed on more than 40 points. The Reds have to be a bit off for the Force to win this one. It’ll be a fascinating game if the Force aren’t 10-0 down after 15 minutes because they have no catch-up game against opponents this good.
Sat, April 24, Bankwest Stadium, Sydney 7.45pm (AEST)
The Waratahs have been false favourites in a number of games this season but the bookies have got this one wrong in my eyes. The ‘Tahs are great value as $3.38 outsiders and have some money on halfback Jake Gordon as an Anytime Tryscorer at $3.75. The Waratahs have been improving and they’d have to after their sub-standard, ragged form to open the season. Flyhalf Ben Donaldson had an excellent comeback game against the Force last round and he sparks confidence that the Waratahs’ attack can put on some tries. You can actually see some improvers in sky blue...No.8 Will Harris and tackle-shredding centre Izaia Perese are two. The Waratahs’ defence is more committed and smothering now but still prone to a system malfunction. That’s an area they need to get right or Rebels dangerman Marika Koroibete will be slicing through.
The Rebels just make too many mistakes to have any confidence in them. Very good passages and dire ones are not the way to build consistent form. Losing lock Trevor Hosea (suspension) is a blow. It was great to see big centre Campbell Magnay back for the Rebels last weekend. One arcing run showed his capabilities. No side has scored fewer tries (10) in seven games than the Rebels which shows they have never quite got their attack together. The Waratahs (12 in seven) are only marginally better overall but six of those tries have come in the past two games. They have added firepower to a steelier defence and they are two good reasons to back the Waratahs in this one.
Breaking their 0-7 duck in front of a Sydney crowd is as powerful as motivation as the Rebels trying to scrap their way into the finals. Of course, if the Force have already trumped them for a finals spot on Friday night, plonk the NSWRU’s Friday lunch money on a Waratahs’ win.
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