Preview: Reds v Brumbies

Date published: March 13 2015

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The Reds will be out to redeem themselves when they host the Brumbies in this Australian derby in Brisbane on Saturday.

The homeside have made a poor start to the competition and have notched only one victory from their four previous matches while the Brumbies have three wins from four matches.

This will be the second time these sides meet this season. The previous encounter was a one-sided affair with the Brumbies claiming a 47-3 triumph in Canberra.

After that result and further losses to the Highlanders in Round Three and arch rivals the Waratahs last weekend,Reds boss Richard Graham is under pressure to retain his job.

After their previous meeting Brumbies boss Stephen Larkham said the Reds were not "up to the standard of Super Rugby" and although Graham has said his side haven't spoken about that result, Reds number eight Jake Schatz is determined to make Larkham eat those words this weekend.

"That's one of those things that, yeah, you can leave it there and let him say what he wants and that's fine," he said.

"But we know we are better than that and we know for us to turn up we can certainly use that as motivation and turn it around in a week."

Larkham has downplayed his comments from the previous match saying it was taken out of context and is focusing on getting the best out of his players for the up coming clash.

"I'm sure internally they've got a good focus on the game – they're not worried about external comments," he said.

"We're not trying to get into any war of words with coaches or players or anything like that.

"We're very focused on trying to take our game to the next level, which is, I'm sure, also their focus."

One thing is certain. Larkham is not underestimating the Reds and expects them to be more competitive than their Round One fixture.

"I wouldn't say they've gotten worse since round one," he added.

"They've certainly improved.

"There is plenty of comment on how poorly they played in that first round, but they're certainly a very dangerous side if they can get it together."

Last time out: The Brumbies dominated from start to finish when these side's met in the season opener in Canberra and scored six unanswered tries. Robbie Coleman, Joe Tomane, Matt Toomua, Nic White, Tevita Kuridrani and James Dargaville all crossed the whitewash and Christian Lealiifano had a field day from the kicking tee, contributing 17 points. The Reds' only points came via a Karmichael Hunt penalty.

Players to watch: Regular Reds centre Ben Tapuai has big boots to fill as he replaces fellow Wallaby James O'Connor at full-back. Tapuai has little experience in his new position and it will be interesting to see in this unfamiliar role.

In Henry Speight, the visitors have one of the leading attackers in the tournament. Speight has been quiet by his standards this season but you can't keep a good player quiet for too and if he finds the ball in space, he is sure to keep the Reds' defenders busy.

Team news: The Reds have been bolstered by the return of James Horwill but his return has been offset by the loss of fellow Wallabies Lachie Turner and James O'Connor through a concussion and a leg injury respectively. Horwill was a late withdrawal against the Waratahs with a back spasm. He replaces Dave McDuling in the run-on side. Ben Tapuai slots in at full-back for the home side as O'Connor's replacement while Campbell Magnay comes in for Turner.

The Brumbies have named an unchanged starting line-up for the second successive match after victories over the Rebels and Force.

Form: The Reds are under pressure although it's still very early in the season. Last weekend they lost 23-5 in Brisbane to the Waratahs and before that they also went down to the Highlanders in Dunedin. There only victory was registered in the second round after they were comprehensively beaten by the Brumbies in the corresponding fixture in Round One. After that fine start to the campaign, the Brumbies suffered a blip in Round Two when they lost narrowly to the Chiefs in Hamilton but they bounced back immediately with successive victories over the Rebels and Western Force.

Prediction: Homeground advantage won't help the Reds to escape another thrashing. Brumbies to win by 15 points!

Previous results:

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

The teams:

Reds: 15 Ben Tapuai, 14 Chris Kuridrani, 13 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 12 Anthony Fainga’a, 11 Campbell Magnay, 10 Nick Frisby,9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 James Horwill, 4 Marco Kotze, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Saia Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper (c).
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Sef Faagase, 19 Dave McDuling, 20 Curtis Browning, 21 Scott Gale, 22 Sam Johnson, 23 Tom Banks.

Brumbies: 15 Robbie Coleman, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ita Vaea, 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 Ruan Smith, 18 JP Smith, 19 Jordan Smiler, 20 Blake Enever, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Lausii Taliauli, 23James Dargaville.

Date: Saturday, March 14
Kick-off: 18.40 local (08.40 GMT, 21.40 NZST, 10.40 SAST)
Venue: Lang Park, Brisbane
Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)
Assistant referees: Matt O'Brien (Australia), Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)
Television match official: George Ayoub (Australia)

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