PREVIEW: Blues v Rebels
Thursday, April 28, 2016 allblacks.com Getty Images
TALE OF THE TAPE
While the history between these two sides is even with two wins apiece, the Blues will take heart that the home side has won all four matches. Traditionally the Rebels have struggled away from home, but not this year. The Melbourne-based side has recorded three away wins already this season – the most in their history.
The dynamic Ioane brothers pull on the Blues jersey for the final time in 2016 before they join Sir Gordon Tietjen’s All Blacks Sevens squad ahead of the Rio Olympics. Rieko has made the right wing spot his own this year with a number of commanding performances while Akira has made an impact from the bench. Both brothers are capable of match-winning moments and will be desperate to perform in their final Investec Super Rugby outing this year.
After 9 rounds the Rebels are the surprise leaders of the Australian conference with five wins from eight matches. Despite lacking the big name players of the Waratahs, Brumbies or Reds, Coach Tony McGahan has fashioned a team that does the basics well and plays to their strengths. Ahead of this weekend’s clash, McGahan said: “We’re under no illusion of the challenge we face against a really good side that towelled us up in a pre-season trial match earlier this year so we need nothing less than our best 80-minute performance on Saturday,” McGahan said.
A return of 15 tries from seven matches this year belies the potency of the Blues backline. With the electric Lolagi Visinia at fullback flanked by game-breakers Rieko Ioane and Tevita Li, the Blues have a back three that can score from anywhere on the park. In the midfield they boast one of the most powerful runners in the competition in George Moala while Ihaia West is a genuine playmaking first-five. There’s a feeling the Blues backline has been simmering this season and they may just come to the boil against the Rebels.
A 5.15pm kick-off will provide a fantastic atmosphere and sunset at Eden Park for this clash. With a fine day and 21 degrees forecast for Auckland, the stage is set for an expansive game. An added bonus for kids is the chance to get on the field and meet the players after the match. Get TICKETS HERE to experience the action LIVE!
SUNSET RUGBY! @BluesRugbyTeam take on @MelbourneRebels this Saturday evening. Tickets: https://t.co/IRgMjTdHgC pic.twitter.com/NPcfeMyi3j— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) April 27, 2016TEAMS
Blues: 15: Lolagi Visinia 14: Rieko Ioane 13: George Moala 12: Piers Francis 11: Tevita Li 10: Ihaia West 9: Bryn Hall 8: Steven Luatua 7: Taneru Latimer 6: Jerome Kaino 5: Josh Bekhuis 4: Patrick Tuipulotu/Hoani Matenga 3: Charlie Faumuina 2: James Parsons © 1: Sam Prattley
Reserves: 16: Quentin McDonald 17: Nic Mayhew/Namatahi Waa 18: Ofa Tu’ungafasi 19: Akira Ioane 20: Kara Pryor 21: Billy Guyton 22: Matt McGahan 23: Melani Nanai/Matt Duffie
Rebels: 15: Jonah Placid 14: Sefa Naivalu 13: Reece Hodge 12: Tamati Ellison 11: Cam Crawford 10: Jack Debreczeni 9: Nic Stirzaker 8: Adam Thomson 7: Sean McMahon 6: Jordy Reid 5: Lopeti Timani 4: Luke Jones 3: Jamie Hagan 2: James Hanson 1: Toby Smith
Reserves:16. Pat Leafa 17. Cruze Ah Nau18. Tim Metcher 19. Sam Jeffries 20. Colby Fainga’a 21. Ben Meehan 22. Kotaro Matsushima 23. Sione Tuipulotu
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