WITH the axe hanging over the Melbourne Rebels, they have the chance to prove an emphatic point about their Super Rugby worth by beating the in-form Brumbies.
Saturday night’s match at AAMI Park could be the last time the Rebels take the field before knowing if it will be either them or the Western Force which is to be dumped from Super Rugby in 2018.
They come up against a conference-leading Brumbies side which has dominated Australian teams, with last week’s 43-10 demolition of the Queensland Reds stretching their unprecedented derby streak to 10.
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Despite Melbourne being the sole winless team in the competition, Brumbies co-captain Sam Carter said they were wary of the circumstances galvanising the Rebels.
“We’re heading down to Melbourne fully prepared and we’re not going to take them lightly at all,” Carter said.
“We know they’re a good team, we know the threats they have on the park.”
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Five second-half tries against the Reds showed the Brumbies are not merely defensive unit determined to grind out games.
Carter, who returns to the side after being rested, said the 17-13 loss to the Highlanders three weeks ago sparked a desire to play more expressive football which he hopes to see against the Rebels.
“I think we were a bit one dimensional in that game,” Carter said.
“We did a lot of work in the bye week and the week off then leading into the Reds (on attack).” The Brumbies have been forced to make two changes with inside centre Kyle Godwin (broken hand) and No. 8 Jordan Smiler (hamstring) to be replaced by Andrew Smith and Jarrad Butler.
Winger Sefi Naivalu returns for the Rebels, giving them increased threats on both sides with Marika Koroibete on the opposite wing set to face off against Henry Speight, one of the Brumbies’ best this season.
Fly-half Jackson Garden-Bachop has been dropped to the bench giving Jack Debreczeni the chance to start in the halves alongside skipper Nic Stirzaker.
“We’ve come up with a simpler plan with what we need to do,” Rebels coach Tony McGahan said.
“We need to hit some strong targets and play with our best attackers on the ball as much as possible.”
The Rebels rank poorly across most statistics, except for turnovers which they have the third most in the competition.
McGahan is confident they can make the Brumbies pay if they win their share of possession.
“Set pieces are a huge part of what we need to do well,” McGahan said.
“We need to be able to win ball and then to be able to use it.”
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Originally published as Brumbies not taking any chances against Rebels
SOURCE: newsnow sport