Planet Rugby

Preview: Brumbies v Reds

15th February 2013 07:36

Share:

Jesse Mogg brumbies v reds

Excellent 2012: Jesse Mogg

The two main challengers for the Australian conference collide at Canberra Stadium on Saturday as the Brumbies host the Reds with 2012 on their mind.

It was a final-day loss to the Blues that deprived Jake White's men top spot in their group and ultimately they missed out on the play-off positions.

For the Reds they had a regular-season campaign that didn't produce a great deal of tries and in all honesty they didn't deserve to retain the title.

This season they have pivot Quade Cooper back and fully-fit but he's missing Will Genia alongside him for the opening rounds while Scott Higginbotham resides in Melbourne from here on in. That latter's switch is a blow to the cause as the big flanker was their second highest try-scorer during 2012.

Much will rest on the shoulders of young openside Liam Gill while James Horwill will soon return to the coalface, looking for form before the B&I Lions arrive. Horwill has already advised Red fly-half Cooper to do his talking on the pitch this season, which is a stark reminder that he won't tolerate nonsense.

Something the Brumbies are not is overconfident. What impresses about this Canberra franchise is their team spirit and collective drive, which was typified last year in a season when few thought they would threaten. We were all wrong as fresh faces like Jesse Mogg, Sam Carter and the ever-improving finisher Henry Speight caught the eye. While they lose another excellent prospect, Michael Hooper, they pick up a seasoned flanker in David Pocock.

The picture is a little different at the Suncorp Stadium, as the Reds go into their season opener without experienced players Radike Samo and Anthony Fainga'a, while they appear to be a tad light in squad depth. Running threat Luke Morahan is also absent this week so the full-back spot goes to Mike Harris in a side that enters the match as underdog. Aidan Toua will wear the number 13 shirt in the absence of Fainga'a while Jake Schatz is at eight.

What the Reds do possess in their corner, however, is the return of that man Cooper from his extended absence, which coincides with the addition of Richard Graham to their coaching team. Consequently, they are in some ways an unknown quantity from 2012 with the Brumbies now the most settled side hailing from Australia. How things change in twelve months ahead of a fixture some are even, at this early stage, predicting to be an eight-pointer.

Key battle: The battle at openside between David Pocock and Liam Gill excites. Pocock, 24, is where Gill, 20, wants to be while Michael Hooper will continue to knock on the Wallaby door. Australia is truly blessed with opensides right now - they have been for the last fifteen years - and this personal contest will be of close interest to head coach Robbie Deans. But with Brumbies coach Jake White having this week put his flanker in the same breath as Jonah Lomu and Richie McCaw, the favourite to take the plaudits on Saturday has to be Pocock, surely?

Prediction: We are on the Brumbies bandwagon for this and can't see their pack and wide threat coming out on the losing side. Brumbies by 8!

The teams:

Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Clyde Rathbone, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen, 7 David Pocock, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Dan Palmer, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ben Alexander.
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ruaidhri Murphy, 18 Colby Faingaa, 19 Fotu Auelua, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Joseph Tomane, 22 Robbie Coleman.

Reds: 15 Mike Harris, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Aidan Toua, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Ben Lucas, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 3 James Slipper (c), 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Greg Holmes.
Replacements: 16 Albert Anae, 17 James Hanson, 18 Ed O'Donoghue, 19 Jarrad Butler, 20 Nick Frisby, 21 Jono Lance, 22 Chris F'Sautia.

Date: Saturday, February 16
Kick-off: 19:40 local (08:40 GMT)
Venue: Canberra Stadium
Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Heineken Cup
Saturday , April 26
Saracens vs Clermont Auvergne15:40
Sunday , April 27
Toulon vs Munster15:30
More Heineken Cup fixtures
RaboDirect PRO12
Saturday , April 26
Glasgow vs Edinburgh19:05
More RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures
Amlin Challenge Cup
Friday , April 25
Northampton vs Harlequins20:00
Sunday , April 27
Wasps vs Bath13:00
More Amlin Challenge Cup fixtures
Super Rugby
Friday , April 25
Blues vs Waratahs17:35
Brumbies vs Chiefs17:40
Sharks vs Highlanders19:10
Saturday , April 26
Hurricanes vs Reds19:35
Western Force vs Bulls17:40
Cheetahs vs Stormers17:05
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , April 20
Northampton 36 - 21 London IrishNorthampton vs London Irish Report
Newcastle 18 - 23 SaracensNewcastle vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Cardiff Blues 17 - 13 ScarletsCardiff Blues vs Scarlets Report
Newport Gwent D'gons 10 - 20 Ospreys
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , April 19
Bath 32 - 20 WorcesterBath vs Worcester Report
Exeter 12 - 55 SaleExeter vs Sale Report
Wasps 38 - 30 GloucesterWasps vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Zebre 26 - 13 EdinburghZebre vs Edinburgh Report
Connacht 23 - 32 MunsterConnacht vs Munster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Oyonnax 19 - 19 ToulouseOyonnax vs Toulouse Report
Perpignan 31 - 46 ToulonPerpignan vs Toulon Report
Biarritz 19 - 13 Brive
Grenoble 21 - 21 Bayonne
Stade Francais 37 - 23 Bordeaux-Begles
Racing Metro Paris 22 - 6 Clermont AuvergneRacing Metro Paris vs Clermont Auvergne Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Chiefs 17 - 18 CrusadersChiefs vs Crusaders Report
Sharks 19 - 8 CheetahsSharks vs Cheetahs Report
Stormers 18 - 3 LionsStormers vs Lions Report
Waratahs 19 - 12 BullsWaratahs vs Bulls Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 18
Harlequins 24 - 20 LeicesterHarlequins vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Leinster 62 - 7 Benetton TrevisoLeinster vs Benetton Treviso Report
Glasgow 27 - 9 UlsterGlasgow vs Ulster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Castres 22 - 15 MontpellierCastres vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Hurricanes 39 - 20 BluesHurricanes vs Blues Report
Melbourne Rebels 22 - 16 Western Force
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens2080
2Northampton2071
3Bath2064
4Leicester Tigers2064
5Harlequins2058