Melbourne feel the Brumbies may have revealed a road-map to Super Rugby AU success over the NSW Waratahs that they can follow in Saturday’s crunch match.

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The Rebels can end the Waratahs’ push for a finals berth at Leichhardt Oval, and seal a spot for themselves in the process.

The Waratahs lineout faltered in their last round loss to the competition- leading Brumbies, losing five of their own.

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Melbourne coach Dave Wessels said the Brumbies exposed a NSW vulnerability in young hooker Tom Horton, who only made his Super Rugby starting debut this year.

“The Brumbies did a great job on them, particularly around their lineout,” Wessels said on Thursday.

“I think that’s a source area that gives the Waratahs a lot of energy and the Brumbies got right into that.

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“Tom Horton is playing very well but he’s still young and I felt the Brumbies did a good job of getting into his head a bit.”

Melbourne won their round four meeting 29-10, which Wessels rated as one of their best performance of the season.

He said his team needed to reproduce that, given what was on the line.

“I feel really confident of where our game is at when we’re playing at our best and our focus is to do that consistently over 80 minutes and we’ve only done that a handful of times this season, and probably that Waratahs game was one of them.

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“We have the potential to play really well but the Waratahs will obviously be up for it so we need to arrive ready for the battle.”

Rebels skipper Dane Haylett-Petty (knee) came close to selection while the Waratahs will again be without midfield gun Karmichael Hunt (hamstring).

Former NRL second-rower Tepai Moeroa is a shock choice in his place at inside centre, earning his first start in Super Rugby AU, despite making only a brief appearance in round one.

Backrower Will Harris also returns to the reserves after an extended injury lay-off due to an ankle injury.

Rebels: Reece Hodge, Andrew Kellaway, Campbell Magnay, Matt Toomua (c), Marika Koroibete, Andrew Deegan, Frank Lomani, Isi Naisarani, Brad Wilkin, Michael Wells, Trevor Hosea, Matt Philip, Jermaine Ainsley, Jordan Uelese, Cameron Orr. Reserves: Efitusi Ma’afu, Cabous Eloff, Pone Fa’amaluli, Michael Stolberg, Richard Hardwick, James Tuttle, Billy Meakes. Tom Pincus.

Waratahs: Jack Maddocks, James Ramm, Joey Walton, Tepai Moeroa, Alex Newsome, Will Harrison, Jake Gordon, Jack Dempsey, Michael Hooper, Lachlan Swinton, Rob Simmons (c), Ned Hanigan, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Tom Horton, Tom Robertson. Res: Robbie Abel, Tetera Faulkner, Angus Bell, Tom Staniforth, Will Harris, Mitch Short, Ben Donaldson, Nick Malouf.

– Melissa Woods

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