SUPER RUGBY PREVIEW : Rebels vs Highlanders

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The Rebels will be hoping to repeat their 2013 victory over Highlanders when they host the New Zealanders on Saturday in Melbourne.

This fixture is an important one for both sides, as a win for either will see them consolidate their position on their respective conference tables with both teams in second place.

Good news for the Australians is that the Highlanders only loss this season has been away from home – this was however back in Round One.

The Melbourne side have only suffered one loss in the last four rounds – a 45-25 defeat at Loftus to the Bulls, however the visitors did deny the three-time champions a bonus point victory after trailing 42-3 in the 45th minute. Scrum-half Ben Meehan’s never-say-die attitude allowed the Australians to restore some pride to the final scoreline and that type spirit can take the side far in the competition.

Victories over the Force and Reds followed by a bonus victory over newcomers the Sunwolves in Tokyo last week has certainly seen the Rebels start the year in a positive way.

The Highlanders meanwhile will want to repeat their 2011 performance where they defeated the Rebels by 40-18 in Melbourne.

The opening round loss to the Blues would have given the Dunedin side a wake-up call as they went onto to secure victories over the Hurricanes, Lions and Waratahs. Despite being up by 23 points in the 56th minute in their match against the Waratahs, the Highlanders held out against a spirited attempt from the Sydney side, ultimately winning 30-26.

Having won their last two fixtures against New Zealand opposition the home side will be hoping they can maintain this form. They have however lost three of the four matches against the Highlanders since their introduction into Super Rugby in 2011.

 

Previous results: 

2014: Highlanders won 30-33 in Dunedin
2013: Rebels won 38-37 in Melbourne
2012: Highlanders won 12-43 in Dunedin
2011: Highlanders won 18-40 in Melbourne

The teams:

Rebels: 15 Jonah Placid, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Adam Thomson, 7 Sean McMahon (c), 6 Jordy Reid, 5 Lopeti Timpani, 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 Scott Fuglistaller, 21 Nic Stirzaker, 22 Dan Hawkins, 23 Reece Hodge

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (cc), 14 Jack Wilson, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Rob Thompson, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Liam Squire, 7 Shane Christie (cc), 6 Luke Whitelock, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Mark Reddish, 3 Siosuia Halanukonuka, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Brendon Edmonds
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Craig Millar, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Dan Pryor, 20 Elliot Dixon, 21 Josh Renton, 22 Hayden Parker, 23 Jason Emery

Date: Saturday, March 26
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 19:45 local (08:45 GMT)
Referee: Andrew Lees
Assistant Referees: Angus Gardner, Jordan Way
TMO: Peter Marshall


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