PREVIEW: Rebels v Highlanders
Thursday, February 28, 2019 allblacks.com Getty Images
Match details: Rebels v Highlanders, AAMI Stadium, Melbourne, 9.45pm (NZT), Friday 1 March
Won: Rebels 1, Highlanders 6
Last time: Highlanders 43, Rebels 37 (14 July 2018)
Referee: AJ Jacobs
The Highlanders have shown great heart and determination to win both of their games with tries in the dying minutes. The first came courtesy of an Aaron Smith try with just fourteen players on the field against the Chiefs. The southern side left it late again against the Reds the following week with Dillon Hunt crashing over for the match-winning try. The Rebels were impressive in taking out the Brumbies 34-27 in the opening round before enjoying a bye in round two.
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The Highlanders are missing All Blacks Ben Smith, Aaron Smith and Luke Whitelock as part of the early-season rest protocols for All Blacks players. The resting of Ben Smith sees playmaking first five-eighth Josh Ioane move to the fifteen jersey with Bryn Gatland getting his first start at 10 for the Highlanders. In the pack, Elliot Dixon is back in the eight jersey to partner Shannon Frizell and James Lentjes in a powerful loose forward trio.
REBELS BACKLINE THREAT
The Rebels backline has some real wow factor about it. While Will Genia and Quade Cooper are the headline grabbers, the outside backs have the potential to be one of the most deadly combinations in the competition. At fullback, Dane Haylett-Petty is a serious player with very few chinks in his game. He is flanked on the wings by the ever dangerous Marika Koroibete and impressive young flyer Jack Maddocks. If the Rebels are to be successful in 2019, they will need this combination to fulfil their massive potential.
The Highlanders have won 14 of their last 16 regular season games against Australian opposition.
STATCHAT | Shannon Frizell was a machine against the Reds on Friday night! Who was your standout player from last week? ??#RaiseTheStakes #StatChat pic.twitter.com/KQSj9kPpvA— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) February 26, 2019THE SCOOP
The Rebels come into this contest full of confidence and boosted by the presence of returning Wallabies Adam Coleman and Reece Hodge on the bench. There has been plenty of noise that the Rebels are the Australian team to beat in 2019 and a win over the Highlanders will justify that hype. The Highlanders have done well to pick up wins in the opening two rounds but may struggle to make it three in a row against a Rebels side that will want to make a statement at home.
Highlanders: 15. Josh Ioane, 14. Waisake Naholo, 13. Thomas Umaga-Jensen, 12. Teihorangi Walden, 11. Josh McKay, 10. Bryn Gatland, 9. Kayne Hammington, 8. Elliot Dixon, 7. James Lentjes, 6. Shannon Frizell, 5. Pari Pari Parkinson, 4. Jackson Hemopo, 3. Siate Tokolahi, 2. Ash Dixon (c), 1. Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Reserves: Ricky Jackson, Ayden Johnstone, Josh Iosefa-Scott, Tom Franklin, Marino Mikaele Tu'u, Folau Fakatava, Patelesio Tomkinson, Marty Banks
Rebels: 15. Dane Haylett-Petty (c), 14. Jack Maddocks, 13. Tom English, 12. Billy Meakes, 11. Marika Koroibete, 10. Quade Cooper, 9. Will Genia, 8. Isi Naisarani, 7. Brad Wilkin, 6. Angus Cottrell, 5. Matt Philip, 4. Luke Jones, 3. Sam Talakai, 2. Anaru Rangi, 1. Tetera Faulkner
Reserves: Robbie Abel, Matt Gibbon, Jermain Ainsley, Adam Coleman, Richard Hardwick, Rob Leota, Michael Ruru, Reece Hodge
?? OPINION | Is the gap between the Australian and New Zealand conferences closing?
READ ?? https://t.co/4OGmmBlDLg#RaiseTheStakes pic.twitter.com/MEwMCB4sOq— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) February 27, 2019