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Super Rugby 2020: Preview – Rebels v Waratahs {14/2/20}

Rebels v Waratahs
Friday 14 February, 9.15pm NZT at AAMI Stadium, Melbourne
Referee: Damon Murphy
Played: 17
Won: Rebels 2, Waratahs 15
Last match: Rebels 15, Waratahs 20 (31 May 2019)

It might seem a little early in the season to panic, but the loser of this game will find themselves 0-3 and sitting dead last on the Australian conference. The Waratahs have history on their side but home-town advantage might just give the Rebels the edge in this Australian crunch clash.

Waratahs head coach Rob Penney has made several alterations to his starting XV for Friday’s Super Rugby derby against the Rebels in Melbourne.

Loosehead prop Angus Bell will make his Super Rugby starting debut in the front-row alongside Robbie Abel and Harry Johnson-Holmes.

The inclusion of Bell, 19, is one of six changes made by Penney to the run-on side following the Waratahs’ 32-12 loss to the Blues in Newcastle last weekend.

Jed Holloway returns to the back-row for Lachie Swinton, while Alex Newsome comes in from the wing to replace Lalakai Foketi at number 13.

Jack Maddocks gets his first start for the Waratahs on the wing, and Cameron Clark will also start on the other wing, replacing Mark Nawaqanitawase, who has recovered from his awkward try-scoring landing last week but has been benched as a management call.

Penney said some of the changes were motivated partly by some concerns arising from their first two games and to give players exposure to Super Rugby.

“It is partly a reaction to some of the issues we have been having, and partly the need to find our best combinations and grow the total group,” he said.

“We have come in on a pretty short program and there is not a lot of experience in the group, as you know. We have just got to expose some people, so it is a bit of both there.”

The elevation of Bell, one of the promising stars to emerge from the 2018 Australian Schools and U18s side and then the 2019 Junior Wallabies, to a starting loosehead role ahead of Wallaby Tom Roberston is a big show of confidence in a position that values players closer to 30 than 20.

But Penney said the big youngster, who is son of former Wallaby and current New South Wales scrum coach Mark Bell, can handle the step up after seeing his impact from the bench.

Average score: Rebels 19 Waratahs 32

Last five results
Fri, 31 May 2019 Rebels v Waratahs 15-20 Melbourne
Sat, 20 Apr 2019 Rebels v Waratahs 20-23 Sydney
Fri, 29 Jun 2018 Rebels v Waratahs 26-31 Melbourne
Sun, 18 Mar 2018 Rebels v Waratahs 27-51 Sydney
Sun, 21 May 2017 Rebels v Waratahs 23-50 Sydney

Rebels overall record against the Waratahs
Played 17 , Wins 2 , Losses 15 , Draws 0

Rebels: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty (c), 14 Reece Hodge, 13 Campbell Magnay, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Ryan Louwrens, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Michael Wells, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Ruan Smith, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Matt Gibbon
Replacements: 16 Steven Misa, 17 Cameron Orr, 18 Cabous Eloff, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Rob Leota, 21 Angus Cottrell, 22 Frank Lomani, 23 Andrew Kellaway

Waratahs: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Cameron Clark, 13 Alex Newsome, 12 Karmichael Hunt, 11 Jack Maddocks, 10 Will Harrison, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jed Holloway, 5 Rob Simmons (c), 4 Tom Staniforth, 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 Robbie Abel, 1 Angus Bell
Replacements: 16 Damien Fitzpatrick, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Tetera Faulkner, 19 Ryan Mccauley, 20 Lachlan Swinton, 21 Mitch Short , 22 Lalkai Foketi, 23 Mark Nawaqanitawase

Date: Friday, February 14
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 19:15 local (08:15 GMT)
Referee: Damon Murphy (Australia)
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs (South Africa), Nic Berry (Australia)
TMO: Ian Smith (New Zealand)


14 February Blues v Crusaders Auckland 7:05 PM
14 February Rebels v Waratahs Melbourne 9:15 PM
15 February Sunwolves v Chiefs Tokyo 4:45 PM
15 February Hurricanes v Sharks Wellington 7:05 PM
15 February Brumbies v Highlanders Canberra 9:15 PM
16 February Lions v Stormers Johannesburg 2:05 AM
16 February Jaguares v Reds Buenos Aires 10:40 AM
Bye: Bulls

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