Planet Rugby

Preview: Rebels v Cheetahs

27th February 2014 18:07

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Raymond Rhule Cheetahs Rebels 2013

Pure speed: Raymond Rhule

A year after enjoying their most successful overseas tour ever, the Cheetahs travel to Perth to face the Rebels in confident mood.

Back-to-back victories in Australia last year - over the Waratahs and Force - were followed by a win over the Rebels in Bloemfontein, meaning the team from Melbourne have never beaten in Cheetahs.

Naka DrotskÚ's team got their 2014 season off to a poor start by losing to the Lions but made history last week by beating the Bulls in Super Rugby for the first time.

DrotskÚ has left his side unchanged after some solid momentum was gained against the Bulls.

"We haven't seen much of the Rebels, but we believe that we need to stick with those players that came to the party against the Bulls," said DrotskÚ.

"We need to do well on our overseas tour and to do that we need to start well.

"The Rebels are going to be a huge challenge, mainly because there is no video footage to go by with regards to preparation."

The Rebels are very much an unknown quantity this season with a new head coach in Tony McGahan and eight new faces in their matchday 23.

Friday's squad includes 19-year-old flank Sean McMahon, Australia's youngest-ever Sevens representative, who has played only a handful of 15-man games. He looks set to be a star of the future.

The Rebels have impressed in pre-season (they had a bye last week) and will look to follow up their wins over the Reds, Waratahs and the Hurricanes.

Previous results::

2013: Cheetahs won 34-16, Bloemfontein
2012: Cheetahs won 33-26, Melbourne
2011: Cheetahs won 41-21, Bloemfontein

Prediction: It's a tough one to call as you can't ignore the Rebels' poor record against Friday's visitors, despite their strong pre-season form. The Cheetahs have habit of starting their tours slowly but last week's win over the Bulls will give them plenty of confidence against a side that could be little rusty in their season opener. Cheetahs by five points.

The teams:

Melbourne Rebels: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Lachlan Mitchell, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Scott Higginbotham (captain), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Steve Fualau, 17 Max Lahiff, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Colby Fainga'a, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Angus Roberts, 23 Tom Kingston.

Cheetahs: 15 Willem le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Johannes Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Coenraad Oosthuizen, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Nicolaas van Dyk, 19 Rynhardt Landman, 20 Jean Cook, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Hennie Daniller.

Date: Friday, February 28
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 19.40 local ( 08.40 GMT)
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Matt O'Brien (Australia), Michael Hogan (Australia)

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