Preview: Brumbies v Reds


The Australian Conference leaders the Brumbies host the basement dwelling Reds in Canberra on Friday as Super Rugby action returns this week.

The Brumbies have dominated this fixture over the past four games with them conceding only three points in the last two matches.

A win for the Brumbies will consolidate their position at the of the Australian Conference table where they are currently tied with the Waratahs on 34 points. The Reds have only managed three wins from their 12 matches with the best performance coming against the high-riding Highlanders who they stunned with a 28-27 win in Brisbane.

An all-Wallaby tight five has been named for the home side with hooker Stephen Moore leading his charges after their 3-0 series loss against England during the June internationals.

Stalr back-row David Pocock's physical prowess at the breakdown will be missed by the two-time champions as he is out of action due to a fractured eye socket injury sustained in Australia's series opener against England in Brisbane.

The Reds feature two new faces with Taniela "Tongan Thor" Tupou, and Jack Tuttle both of whom will be hoping to make an impact in what will be their Super Rugby debut.

Tuttle, whose brother James is amongst the reserves, gets his chance at full-back after the departure of Japan star Ayumu Goromaru to Top 14 outfit Toulon.

The Reds will rely heavily on new Wallabies  midfielder Samu Kerevi to get them over that advantage line after he lit up the tournament, before the break for the June internationals, with some barnstorming runs which has carved up defensive lines.

The home side's line-out play has been the source of quality ball this season with Rory Arnold's impressive form at the set-piece earning him a Wallaby call-up.

This is a facet of play which the Reds will have to neutralise and ensure they not only spoil the Brumbies' ball but also secure their own.

Defensively the Reds will have to be sharp and clinical, given playmaker Christian Leali'ifano's confidence with ball in hand, and their discipline must also be superb as Leali'ifano will punish any indiscretion within goalkicking range.

The last time the teams met: These sides met in Round Five last year and while the Brumbies were packed full of Wallabies, the Reds were struggling to field a team with their injury list full of Super Rugby stars including James O'Connor and Lachie Turner. The Brumbies maintained their position on top of the Australian Conference after their pack hammered the Reds scrum and found their way over the whitewash on three occasions in a 27-0 victory. While the scoreline shows a complete Brumbies whitewash, the Reds held strong for much of the match but with little attacking punch they struggled to find any momentum when they had the ball and slowly ran out of steam.

Players to watch: Second row forward Rory Arnold has been at the heart of the Brumbies' lineout success and his accuracy at the set piece will be crucial to give his side momentum. The Brumbies will find quality ball if the 198cm lock dominates from the get go and will be hard to stopped. Pocock's absence has left a big gap both in the leadership corps and for his tenacity at the breakdown, debutant Ben Hyne can make his first Super Rugby a one to remember. The Brisbane City player has big shoes to fill and will be closely watched at the breakdown by the likes of Liam Gill and Curtis Browning. 

Also keep an eye on the latter duo's back row partner Hendrik Tui, who has done well as a ball carrier this season. Tui's ability to get over the advantage line with regularity has been impressive and the Japan international is sure to keep the Brumbies busy with some powerful runs. He enjoys the physical nature of the game and don't be surprised if he delivers some big hits.

Team news: Ben Hyne set to make his debut for the Brumbies at number eight. Hyne starts in place of the injured David Pocock and joins Jarrad Butler and Scott Fardy in the back-row for the Australian derby fixture. It's an all-Wallaby tight five of Stephen Moore in between props Ben Alexander and Scott Sio while Rory Arnold and Sam Carter are at lock. In the backline, Joe Powell starts ahead of Tomás Cubelli at scrum-half while Christian Leali'ifano is fly-half and Matt Toomua wears 12. Former Reds full-back Aidan Toua will face his former team and joins James Dargaville and Nigel Ah Wong in the back-three at GIO Stadium.

Meanwhile, the Reds have several new faces in their squad. That includes former Queensland and Australian Schoolboys representative Jack Tuttle, who has been named to make his Reds and Super Rugby debut at full-back. It will also be his first chance to play with younger brother James since high school. Wallabies lock Kane Douglas and prop Taniela Tupou are also in line to make their Queensland debuts after being named on the bench, while number eight Leroy Houston is also amongst the replacements for his first Super Rugby game since 2011. The side also features four returning Wallabies from the recent three-Test series against England, with James Slipper, Greg Holmes, Nick Frisby and Samu Kerevi all named in the starting side. The injury to lock Rob Simmons in last weekend’s Test has presented an opportunity for recent Australian U20 representative Lukhan Tui to make his run-on debut for the Reds. 

Form: The Brumbies have won eight of their 12 matches this season while the visitors have only secured three victories so far. The most notable win for the Reds came in Brisbane against the defending champions, the Highlanders. The Brumbies' worse effort came against the Chiefs when they were outscored by six tries to two, in Canberra, in a match which they lost 48-23.

Prediction: The Reds are known to put up a brave and spirited effort, but the history books favour the home side. The Brumbies will beat the Reds by at least 10 points.

Previous results:

2015: Brumbies won 29-0 in Brisbane
2015: Brumbies won 47-3 in Canberra
2014: Brumbies won 23-20 in Brisbane
2014: Reds won 17-27 in Canberra
2013: Draw 19-19 in Brisbane
2013: Brumbies won 24-6 in Canberra
2012: Reds won 12-13 in Canberra
2012: Reds won 13-20 in Brisbane

The Teams:

Brumbies: 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Nigel Ah Wong, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 James Dargaville, 10 Christian Leali'ifano, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Ben Hyne, 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Allan Alaalatoa, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Michael Wells, 21 Tomás Cubelli, 22 Andrew Smith, 23 Lausii Taliauli

Reds: 15 Jack Tuttle, 14 Chris Kuridrani, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Henry Taefu, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Curtis Browning, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Lukhan Tui, 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 James Slipper (c)
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga’a, 17 Sef Fa’agase, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Kane Douglas, 20 Leroy Houston, 21 James Tuttle, 22 Duncan Paia’aua, 23 Campbell Magnay

Date: Friday, July 1 
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 11:45 local (09:45 GMT)
Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Paul Williams (New Zealand), Jamie Nutbrown (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)