Ever since Derby County FC came to life in 1884 teams have been playing derby matches.
The Brumbies and the Force will play the first Australian derby match this Saturday at Canberra stadium and the key match ups are:
- The Front Rows:
Nick Henderson, Stephen Moore and Guy Shepherdson will be up against Ben Castle, Tai McIsaac (who if you remember is better than Jeremy Paul, thanks Connelly), Pek Cowan. I expect the brumbies to lose confidence if the Force’s lemonade sandwiches put up a good fight and disrupt the brumbies surprisingly solid set pieces. The Brumbies however hold the ace in this department with Ben Alexander on the bench who can come on in either position and stabilise the brumbies ball.
- The Locks:
I think if Nathan Sharpe can re find the form which changed peoples minds about him the Force may have the edge. Sharpe is partnered by Tom Hockings who like all no names in the super 14 could surprise and hit well above his weight. The Brumbies do have Mark Chisholm & Ben Hand, but Chisholm has an arm injury and came off early last game and Ben Hand does not have the same class as the rest of the brumbies players. However, the Brumbies will play well in the last 20 minutes with “Palulock” Sitaleki Timani and “Nightwalker Noodles” Peter Kimlin able to bring it off the bench.
- The Backrow Battle:
6’s Salvi I expect to be more effective than Matt Hodgson. Both have had a relatively quiet first couple of rounds. Salvi however is obviously classy but has been playing a different role this year. Lets hope he can find the form that helped him keep Hoiles to the bench last year.
7’s We will witness a father son fight between Geroge Smith and David Pocock. I have no idea how this is going down but i do not want to miss a second of it.
8’s Richard Brown v Stephen Hoiles. I expect Brown to have the edge here, He is confident being the incumbent 8 for the wallabies and he has the physical edge over Hoiles. Hoiles is yet to hit his straps this year, but has done a damn good job captaining the brumbies to two last minute wins.
- The Scrum Half:
Phibbs v Valantine, I think Valantine has got it here, he is a better passer than Phibbs and has more experience, also outside him is Matt Giteau who has the best hands in rugby. The Brumbies again have Holmes on the bench who could come on and make more sniping runs like he did against the crusaders without immediate results, but they got close enough to get the try they needed.
- Fly Half:
Christian Lealiifano is getting better, but no one would ever say he is better or as good as Giteau. Lealiifano looks better than normal due to a classy backline, imagine if Giteau was in the brumbies backline, and then wait a year and see your imagination come true. Gits got the edge here for the Force.
I think John Mitchell has benched O’Connor because he can see AAC and Mortlock haunting him on both attack and defence. Mitchell has instead picked Ryan Cross & Junior Pelesasa to counter this giant brumbies centre combination. The problem here is AAC and Mortlock are both classy in attack and defence where as the Force’s centres are mainly attacking weapons. Expect a winger to subbed for the Brums and Tyrone Smith to come to the party around the 60min mark.
Cummins and Shepherd make up the wings for the Force where as Rathbone and Fainifo retain their spots in the brumbies lineup. I’m not convinced with either set of wingers and I just hope Rathbone is marking Shepherd, injury prone v injury prone. I think you have to give this area to the brumbies at home.
Mitchell v Gerrard. Mitchell holds off Shep after a decent showing against the Cheetahs last week. Gerrard comes into this game full of confidence after a perfect tactical kicking display and a match winning try. At Canberra Stadium i think Gerrard will have the edge.
In summery either team could win. But it is the Burmbies who are more likely to win due to their vastly stronger front row and centres.
What do you think?