The scramble for finals spots is peaking with just two Super Rugby AU rounds remaining. Saturday’s Rebels-Waratahs showdown is arguably the most important of the season so far.
History: Played 17: Brumbies 12 V Force 4 (1 Draw)
Last meeting: July 25, 2020: Brumbies 24 d Force 0 at Leichhardt Oval
Final Thoughts: The Brumbies made a huge statement in Round 8 to put one had on a top-of-the-table finish. Coming off the bye after a heavy 30-12 loss to the Rebels – their first of the competition – the Canberra outfit thrashed the in-form Waratahs 38-11. The Brumbies led by just a point at halftime but ran away with the result via second-half doubles to Tom Wright and Pete Samu.
The winless Force, lacking vital class and firepower in their ranks, have generally been plucky throughout their Super Rugby AU campaign. But their resolve faded away in Round 8, conceding eight tries to the Reds in a 57-5 rout.
The Force have won just one of their last 13 against the Brumbies, who have won the last eight clashes by eight points or more. The Brumbies were clinical in a 24-0 shutout in Super Rugby Round 4, running in four tries – including two in the first six minutes.
Struggling in attack with just nine tries in six games, the Force showed worrying signs defensively last week. The Brumbies are the competition’s most potent attacking unit – averaging four tries per game – and should rack up a score here.
19:15 (AEST), Sat 29th Aug @ Leichhardt Oval, Sydney
History: Played 19: Waratahs 15 V Rebels 4
Last meeting: July 24, 2020: Rebels 29 d Waratahs 10 at SCG
Final Thoughts: With the second- and third-place finishers going into a qualifying final in two weeks’ time, this showdown will be decisive. The third-placed Waratahs are one point ahead of the fourth-placed Rebels. But the Rebels have a game in hand – facing the battling Force in the last round while the Waratahs sit out the weekend with the bye.
After big back-to-back wins over the Reds and Force, the Waratahs’ resurgence hit a brick wall in Canberra last weekend. They struck late in the first half to trail the Brumbies by just one point at the break but conceded four unanswered second-half tries in a 38-11 loss.
The Rebels’ four-match unbeaten run ended via a dismal 19-3 loss to the Reds in Round 7 – a big comedown from a 30-12 defeat of the Brumbies a week earlier. The Melbourne side had the bye last week.
Despite a dismal 4-15 overall record against the Waratahs, the Rebels have won both clashes in 2020. They carved out a 24-10 home win in February after Andrew Kellaway scored a late double and hammered the ’Tahs 29-10 (after trailing 10-0) in Sydney in Round 4 of Super Rugby AU on the back of Matt Toomua’s 19-point haul with the boot.
Though last week’s second-half showing was bitterly disappointing, the Waratahs have shown real promise in recent games. But the Rebels’ resolute defence and Toomua’s unerring boot should get them across the line.