Preview: Reds v Waratahs – 29/04/2017

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The Reds are looking to break their hoodoo against the Waratahs when they host their traditional rivals at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.

The Reds are coming off a bye last week and will be thinking that there is possibly not a better time to face the Waratahs. The ‘Tahs have just endured arguably their most disappointing defeat in Super Rugby history, a 26-24 humbling at the hands of the Southern Kings last weekend.

Out of 27 Super Rugby games played in total between the sides, both teams have won 13 apiece while there has been one draw. However, while the history books say this is an even contest, The Waratahs have won the last six encounters between the teams.

More worryingly for the Reds, they have not won consecutive games in Super Rugby since 2014. And seeing as they won their last match against the Kings 47-34, they are due a loss.

Both sides are desperate to prove that Australian rugby is not in the doldrums and this could make for an even more feisty contest than usual.

And they will be desperate to close the gap on the Brumbies, who lead the Australian conference.

Waratahs captain Michael Hooper knows what to expect of the encounter on Saturday night.“We are in anticipation for a tough game and a physical, hard battle”, he said.

“(We’re also) anticipating a really good battle in (the backrow). We’ve got some really young, hungry guys here in Wellsy (Michael Wells) and Ned (Hanigan) that take it up to an older backrow.”

Meanwhile, Reds coach Nick Stiles has had his say on the occasion: “No one needs reminding of the importance of this match for both sides.

“This is the only Queensland versus New South Wales fixture in the 2017 calendar and it has a lot of implications for the Australian conference.”

The last time the teams met: In a rain-affected Australian derby last time out, the Waratahs scraped past the Reds 15-13. The Reds were rewarded with a penalty try from a five-metre scrum, an area which they dominated throughout the game. However, the Waratahs were more clinical and Israel Folau scored a brace to pile the misery on the Queensland side in a game which saw plenty of handbags.

Team news: Reds head coach Nick Stiles has made just one change to his starting XV. The return of Stephen Moore is the only alteration to the starting side which defeated the Southern Kings two weeks ago. Moore returns in place of Alex Mafi, who has moved to the bench. The other changes to the side are all in the reserves, with a number of players returning from injury. Lock Izack Rodda returns from a shoulder injury to take the place of Kane Douglas in the reserves. Number eight Leroy Houston gets his first opportunity in the Reds jersey in 2017, after finally recovering from an eye injury suffered in the lead up to their Round 4 match against the Jaguares. Houston takes his place in the reserves ahead of Adam Korczyk. Campbell Magnay is also lining up for his first game in 2017 after completing a lengthy rehabilitation from shoulder and hip injuries. Magnay has replaced winger Chris Kuridrani in the reserves.

Waratahs head coach Daryl Gibson has opted to start Wallaby Nick Phipps at scrum-half with Jake Gordon earning himself a rest which means Matt Lucas will do duty as the reserve scrum-half. With Tolu Latu ruled out with injury, Hugh Roach will start as hooker with Sekope Kepu back at tighthead prop after serving his one game suspension.

Form: Both sides have won two of their eight Super Rugby games thus far. The Reds have beaten the Sharks and the Kings while losing to the Force, Crusaders, Lions, Jaguares, Hurricanes and Brumbies. The Waratahs have beaten the Force and the Brumbies while losing to the Lions, Sharks, Brumbies, Crusaders, Hurricanes and Kings.

The Reds are coming off a bye last weekend. The weekend prior to that, they beat the Kings 47-34 before the Kings beat the Waratahs 26-24 the following weekend. However, the Reds have not won consecutive games in Super Rugby since 2014. They have also lost to the Waratahs on the last six occasions in a row.

Previous results:

2016: Waratahs won 15-13 in Queensland
2016: Waratahs won 30-10 in Sydney
2015: Waratahs won 31-5 in Sydney
2015: Waratahs won 23-5 in Queensland
2014: Waratahs won 34-3 in Queensland
2014: Waratahs won 32-5 in Sydney
2013: Reds won 14-12 in Sydney
2013: Reds won 25-17 in Queensland

The teams:

Reds: 15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Izaia Perese, 13 Samu Kerevi (c), 12 Duncan Paia’aua, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 James Tuttle, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 George Smith, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Lukhan Tui, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Sef Fa’agase
Replacements: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Kirwan Sanday, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Izack Rodda, 20 Leroy Houston, 21 Nick Frisby , 22 Hamish Stewart, 23 Campbell Magnay

Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13 Rob Horne, 12 David Horwitz, 11 Cam Clark, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Michael Wellings, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Dean Mumm, 4 David McDuling, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Hugh Roach, 1 Tom Robertson
Replacements: 16 Damien Fitzpatrick, 17 Paddy Ryan, 18 Angus Taavao, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Jed Holloway, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Irae Simone, 23 Bryce Hegarty

Date: Saturday, April 29
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 21:45 local (09:45 GMT)
Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Jordan Way (Australia), Damon Murphy (Australia)
TMO: Ian Smith (Australia)


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