Another week, another round of Super Rugby to look forward to with Round 7 getting underway on Good Friday at 7.45pm! As usual, our Super Rguby expert Jim Tucker has you covered with a full preview and betting tisp for both games across the weekend below.
Fri, April 2 Sydney Cricket Ground 7:45pm (AEDT)
The “Dead Coach Bounce” is definitely a thing in sport. Just how much can the Waratahs rebound after the sacking of Kiwi Rob Penney is the huge question. Conceding 40 points a game is appalling through five matches. It’s dire reads more than anything. Nic White (Brumbies) and Tate McDermott (Reds) have both now scored simple scrum-base tries because Carlo Tizzano and the ‘Tahs backrow has overtracked and left a hole inside bigger than the Sydney Heads. Mix in more desperation, scrambling and some heightened attitude and the Waratahs can be more disruptive and knock the Brumbies out of some rhythm. It won’t be enough to win but they can limit the damage to under 20 points. An average scrum and sub-standard locks still makes damage limitation a huge battle.
Having halfback and captain Jake Gordon back is huge because he will also sharpen the Waratahs attack. They’ll score some points.
The Brumbies look settled and strong. Centres Irae Simone and Len Ikitau are getting better and better as a partnership. Short balls and long passes to pressure the uncertain Waratahs defensive spacing will be part of the plan. Winger Tom Wright is back to feast.
When the Queenslanders sacked coach Richard Graham early in 2016, they lost by two points and clawed a draw against the Blues in their next two games under caretaker coaches. Beware the bounce.
Sat, April 3 AAMI Park, Melbourne 7:45pm (AEDT)
This is one in which the Rebels could pull an upset if they start fast with a 10-0 lead and apply the pressure. Coming from behind is no formula. The Reds have had the Covid disruption of not being allowed home to Brisbane during the week but they’ll have enjoyed a week on the road. Losing winger Suliasi Vunivalu to injury hasn’t cost the backline any balance. A Hamish Stewart-Hunter Paisami centre pairing is well grooved and Jordie Petaia can chime in with some killer runs off the wing. Teams with a 5-0 start will lose their way in a game somewhere. Could this be it? Maybe.
The Rebels led for 76 minutes when the teams played in Brisbane in February before being pipped 23-21. More disruptive defence, more pressure on the ball from in-form flanker Richard Hardwick and the Rebels can get close again. The Reds will be more patient this time and do have superior firepower off the bench to finish more strongly through Filipo Daugunu, Angus Blyth, Seru Uru and Alex Mafi in the final 20 minutes.
The Rebels program has been given a lift this week with uncapped pack members Trevor Hosea, Josh Kemeny and Pone Fa’amausili all being picked in the wider training squad of Wallabies coach Dave Rennie. That’s a nice tap on the shoulder to perform here.
Marika Koroibete (Rebels) and Petaia (Reds) trading line-breaks and big runs from the wing will be some spectacle. Reds by a little and Petaia to get on the try list.
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