Preview: Reds v Rebels

Date published: July 14 2016

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There will be plenty of pride at stake when the Reds take on the Rebels, in their final fixture of the 2016 campaign in Brisbane on Friday.

Both teams are out of play-off contention, so bragging rights and giving their departing players a winning send-off will be the biggest motivating factors for these sides.

The Reds say goodbye to Greg Holmes, who heads to Premiership side Exeter Chiefs, and Liam Gill, who is joining Toulon in France while the Rebels' Luke Jones is heading to fellow Top 14 club Bordeaux-Bègles.

After their poor campaign – in which they only won three matches – Gill feels a win this weekend is important for the 2011 champions' morale.

"We've got to prove a lot, not only to ourselves, but our fans," he told AAP.

"For us to move forward and find a bit of fight for next year, we've got to put out a good performance."

Meanwhile Rebels, coach Tony McGahan wants his charges to equal the club's record of winning seven matches during the league phase of the competition.

"Any derby, especially in Queensland at Suncorp Stadium, which has such a great atmosphere, you want to win all your derby games in your own country," he said.

"The Reds have a number of guys leaving their team next year, so they have plenty of motivation, and we have a few guys leaving ourselves.

"We have a 7-9 record we want to get to, and the playing group want to protect some of the good work we have done this year."

While the Reds have won eight of the 11 fixtures between these clubs it’s the Rebels who’ve enjoyed the most recent success, winning three of the last five matches between these sides. 

The Reds have won three of their last four matches at home, though they have won only two of their last 10 home games against Australian opposition.

The Rebels have lost their last three away matches, conceding 157 points and scoring just 71 of their own. No side has won more penalties per game than either the Rebels or Reds this season, who have been awarded 11.4 per game on average. 

The Rebels have recorded the worst goal kicking success rate this season (63 percent), missing 2.1 shots at goal per game. 

The last time these teams met: The Rebels held off a late comeback from the Reds to claim a narrow 25-23 win in Melbourne in Round Three. Rebels fly-half Jack Debreczeni led the way with a 20-point haul via six penalties and a conversion and Jonah Placid scored the home side's only try. For the Reds, Nick Frisby and Andrew Ready crossed the whitewash and Jake McIntyre kicked three penalties and two conversions.

Players to watch: All focus will be on the players who are heading overseas to further their careers. For the Reds, Greg Holmes will be determined to give a strong scrummaging display in his 144th Super Rugby match for the men from Brisbane while his team-mate, tearaway Liam Gill will also want his last match for the 2011 champions to be a memorable one. Gill's prowess at the breakdown is his main strength but he also has other fine attributes and he should have a big influence on the result.

For the Rebels, Luke Jones will also be keen on a winning send-off as his last home match for the men from Melbourne ended in disappointment after he suffered a concussion against the Stormers. The second-row has been with the Rebels since the club was established in 2011 and a big shift at the coalface of the Rebels' forward effort is expected as he aims to go out on a high.

Team news: The Reds have made three changes to their starting XV for this encounter. The changes are headlined by the return from injury of veteran tighthead prop Greg Holmes who will play in his final match for the Brisbane side before joining English club Exeter next season. Injury has forced the other changes, with prop James Slipper (sternum) and full-back Jack Tuttle (shoulder) replaced by Sef Fa’agase and Tom Banks respectively. Slipper’s absence has prompted the promotion of departing flanker Liam Gill to the role of captain for his final match at Suncorp Stadium before heading overseas for a two-year stint in France. 

Meanwhile, Rebels head coach Tony McGahan has made four changes to his starting XV. Luke Jones, Sean McMahon and Mitch Inman return from injury, while Paul Asquith will make his run-on Super Rugby debut after two weeks as a reserve. The Rebels welcome back a wealth of experience with the returning trio combining for 202 games of Super Rugby as the team looks to equal the club’s record of seven victories in a season.Jones, who missed last weekend’s trip to Christchurch after he suffered a concussion against the Stormers, will make his 72nd and last Super Rugby appearance for the club before his departure to France. McGahan has made a surprise selection with Australian U20’s rising star Jack Maddocks set to make his Super Rugby debut after being included on the reserves bench for the first time in his career.

Form: The Reds' last victory came in Round 13 when they beat the Sunwolves in Brisbane. Since then, they had a bye in Round 14 and after the break for the June Tests they suffered heavy defeats against the Brumbies and Chiefs.

The Rebels ended a three-match losing streak with a home victory over the Western Force in Round 14. After the international break they conceded more than 50 points in losses to the Stormers in Melbourne and Crusaders in Christchurch.

Prediction: With little at stake, don't be surprised if this is a high-scoring affair. Home ground advantage will be decisive, so the Reds will win by six points.

Previous results:

2016: Rebels won 25-23 in Melbourne
2015: Reds won 29-46 in Brisbane
2015: Rebels won 23-15 in Melbourne
2014: Reds won 20-36 in Melbourne
2014: Rebels won 30-27 in Brisbane
2013: Reds 20-33 in Brisbane
2013: Reds won 13-23 in Melbourne
2012: Reds won 17-32 in Melbourne

The teams:

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

Rebels: 15 Paul Asquith, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Tom English, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Nic Stirzaker (c), 8 Colby Fainga’a, 7 Jordy Reid, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Culum Retallick, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 James Hanson, 1 Toby Smith 
Replacements: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Cruze Ah Nau, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Rob Leota, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Sione Tuipulotu, 23 Jack Maddocks

Date: Friday, July 15
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 19:40 local (09:40 GMT)
Referee: Will Houston (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Andrew Lees (Australia), Amy Perrett (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

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