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High-flying Brumbies wary of Melbourne Rebels with a cause

By AAP
Rebels' Rob Leota (C) is tackled by the Brumbies' Nick Frost (R) during the Super Rugby match between the Melbourne Rebels and the ACT Brumbies in Melbourne on February 23, 2024. (Photo by William WEST / AFP) / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE -- (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)

Despite their superior position on the ladder, the ACT Brumbies are wary of a wounded Melbourne Rebels who have everything to play for with a maiden finals berth on the line.

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The sixth-placed Rebels are in a strong position to qualify for the first Super Rugby Pacific finals campaign in the club’s 14-year history.

Reaching the knockouts would be a lift for the Rebels’ long-suffering fans, with the club in administration and at real risk of folding at the end of the season.

But they still require one win from their last two games to sew up the spot, including a daunting round-14 away trip to the third-placed Brumbies on Friday night.

Brumbies lock Nick Frost is not taking the embattled Rebels lightly.

“It’s a team that we’ve traditionally always had good games against, and we’ve struggled against,” he said.

“They’re a big, physical pack and they’ve got good backline players.

“They’ll be ripping into us. That’s what we want. You want these good games at the end of the year. You don’t really want an easy run.”

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Winger Ollie Sapsford, who recently secured his future with the Brumbies until the end of 2026, expects the Rebels will have a point to prove.

“It’d be super tough for them,” he said.

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“I feel really sorry for the boys down there. A lot of them probably don’t know if they’ve got jobs next year.”

History is in the Brumbies’ favour. The Canberra-based side have won four of their last five encounters with the Rebels, and 13 of 22 in total.

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With a top-two spot still not out of the equation for his side, Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham knows the importance of a bonus point against the Rebels – but isn’t getting ahead of himself.

“The top two teams, the Blues and the Hurricanes, do have some challenging games coming up but those results are out of our control,” he said.

“The only thing we can do is try and get a performance on the weekend.

“The first priority is to get a win. If we’re in a situation where the game is comfortably won within the last 10 minutes, then we’ll be talking about those scenarios.”

Larkham has made three changes from the Brumbies’ chaotic last-minute penalty-try win over the Crusaders last time out.

Hooker Billy Pollard (knee) and winger Corey Toole (ankle) return to the starting line-up from injury, while lock Tom Hooper has been promoted from the bench.

Rebels coach Kevin Foote will be without Wallabies five-eighth Carter Gordon, who has been ruled out with concussion symptoms.

Foote was happy to welcome back Andrew Kellaway, who missed the side’s narrow loss to the Chiefs as he recuperated from a head knock of his own.

Kellaway’s battle with Brumbies ace Tom Wright, as they each try to tie down the Wallabies fullback jersey, is likely to be a highlight.

“I have a great appreciation for his game sense and how he manages the game,” Foote said of Kellaway.

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1 Comment
j
john 31 days ago

About time the Brumbies pulled their finger out and put in for 80 minutes.
And stop b….. cheating !

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Turlough 18 minutes ago
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