The Brumbies will be out for revenge when they take on the Reds in what should be a thrilling Super Rugby derby in Canberra on Friday.
These sides currently occupy third and fourth position on the Australian Conference table with the Reds four points ahead of the Brumbies and although they are playing away from home, they will be quietly confident as they have won their last two games against the Brumbies.
The Reds wil not be lacking in motivation when they run out for this match as another victory will mean they secure a third consecutive win against the Brumbies for the first time in Super Rugby history.
The Brumbies head into this game desperate for victory against the Brisbane-based outfit as they have lost their last four Australian derbies which is their worst run since 2011. Added to that, the two-time champions have never lost five such games on the bounce.
By contrast, after losing 10 Aussie derbies in a row, the Reds have since won three of their last five domestic battles (two losses).
The 2011 champions have struggled in recent seasons but have made an impressive start to the season under the guidance of former All Blacks lock Brad Thorn, who has made them a competitive unit and surprise contenders to win the Australian Conference.
Both sides will be keen to secure victory as they head into this fixture after suffering defeats in their previous matches in the tournament. The Reds had a bye last week but lost to the Stormers in Round 6 and the Brumbies suffered a loss at home to the Waratahs in Round 7.
Despite losing that match, the Brumbies were boosted by the return from a sabbatical of David Pocock. He will be determined to continue where he left off against the Waratahs where he was superb at the breakdown and in defence.
Both sides will be determined to improve their attacking play as the Brumbies (18.6) and Reds (18.8) are the only two sides to average fewer than 20 points per game this season.
Team news: Brumbies head coach Dan McKellar has made three changes to his team that lost to the Waratahs last weekend. Matt Lucas, Chance Peni and Tom Banks are given the opportunity to shine. Scrum-half Lucas makes his first start for the Brumbies having been a replacement in each of his previous five appearances.
The other two changes are in the back three where Chance Peni returns to the left wing having missed the games against the Sharks and Waratahs, replacing Lausii Taliauli, whilst Tom Banks is in at full-back ahead of Andrew Muirhead.
There are a further three changes amongst the replacements with co-captain Sam Carter deemed fit after a prolonged absence, after suffering a heavy knock to the head against the Rebels in Melbourne.
Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin returns as cover in the front-row for the unlucky Mees Erasmus who, despite being named on the bench last week, was unfortunate not to get his first Brumbies cap. There is an opportunity for Erasmus’ former Force colleague James Verity-Amm to make his Brumbies bow however, as the flying wing is named as backs cover and stands in line for a debut appearance.
It’s a weekend for milestones as well as the Brumbies celebrate Fijian speedster Henry Speight winning his 100th cap for the club, a sensational achievement, whilst lock Rory Arnold and prop Allan Alaalatoa will both reach the 50-cap milestone when they take to the field.
Meanwhile, centre Samu Kerevi will earn his 50th Reds cap in Canberra, while Scott Higginbotham will resume the captaincy as he returns to the starting number eight role. The Reds have made three personnel changes to the starting XV which suffered a narrow loss to the Stormers two weeks ago, with Higginbotham, Brandon Paenga-Amosa and Eto Nabuli returning.
Higginbotham’s promotion has seen a shuffle in the back-row, with Caleb Timu moving to blindside flanker and promising youngster Angus Scott-Young dropping out of the matchday 23. Nabuli’s move back to the starting wing sees Chris Feauai-Sautia shift to the centres to build on his combination with Kerevi, with Duncan Paia’aua dropping out of the 23.
The Reds have also made a number of changes to the bench, most notably bringing in 18-year-old outside back Jordan Petaia for his potential Reds and Super Rugby debut. Should he take the field, the Brisbane State High School graduate will be Queensland’s first debutant born this millennium and the youngest-ever Super Rugby debutant for the Reds at 18 years and 24 days old.
The Reds will also welcome back lock Lukhan Tui, who has been named on the bench for the first time since serving a three-match suspension. Tui takes the place of promising young lock Harry Hockings. In the other changes to the bench, former Brumbies prop Ruan Smith replaces Sef Fa’agase, scrum-half James Tuttle replaces Tate McDermott and flanker Liam Wright is back in for the first time since Round 5.
2018: Reds won 18-10 in Brisbane
2017: Reds won 16-15 in Brisbane
2017: Brumbies won 43-10 in Canberra
2016: Brumbies won 43-24 in Canberra
2015: Brumbies won 29-00 in Brisbane
2015: Brumbies won 47-03 in Canberra
2014: Brumbies won 23-20 in Brisbane
2014: Reds won 27-17 in Canberra
2013: The sides drew 19-19 in Brisbane
2013: Brumbies won 24-06 in Canberra
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Chance Peni, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Matt Lucas, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 David Pocock, 6 Lachlan McCaffrey, 5 Blake Enever, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Faalelei Sione, 18 Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, 19 Sam Carter, 20 Tom Cusack, 21 Joe Powell, 22 Kyle Godwin, 23 James Verity-Amm
Reds: 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Filipo Daugunu, 13 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Ben Lucas, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Adam Korczyk, 6 Caleb Timu, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 James Slipper
Replacements: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 JP Smith, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Lukhan Tui, 20 Liam Wright, 21 James Tuttle, 22 Hamish Stewart, 23 Jordan Petaia
Date: Saturday, April 7
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 19:45 local (09:45 GMT)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), James Leckie (Australia)
Television match official: George Ayoub (Australia)