Melbourne Rebels

Preview – Chiefs vs Rebels

Preview – Chiefs vs Rebels

A tough game awaits the Rebels in Hamilton, where they will face the in-form Chiefs.

The Chiefs had the bye last week, and will look to maintain their position in the New Zealand conference.

The Rebels have only won a single game in New Zealand, defeating the Crusaders in Round 1 2015.  They need at least a losing bonus-point to keep alive their slim hopes of a maiden finals berth.

The home team will be without Charlie Ngatai, who is recovering from a head knock.  He has amassed some amazing stats this season, including defenders beaten (38).  He only runs second to his teammate, the 2016 season breakout player, Damian McKenzie, in defenders beaten.  Charlie is a big loss, but this should not have an impact in the Waikato offensive game.  Anton Lienert-Brown and Seta Tamanivalu are a capable combination.

The Rebels will be without winger Cam Crawford, ruled out after he broke his hand during the match against the Brumbies. Tom English will replace him on the left wing.  Mitch Inman will come back into the team after being sidelined after Round 6 due to injury.

Gone for the season: Cam Crawford

The amount of Tries scored offers a good indication of a team’s attacking success.  The Chiefs have scored 47 tries, which is the best in the competition, for an average of 34.2 points per game, and a point difference of +104 point in their 8 wins.  Conversely, the Rebels have scored only 28 tries for an average of 23.5 points.  More telling, they have a negative 23 in their point difference column in a 5/5 season so far.


Role by role the Chiefs have an overall upper hand over the Rebels, but there are some areas where the Australians might put the hosts under pressure.

Sam Cane v Sean McMahon

The Rebels have a huge talent in the backrowers, Sean McMahon is having a stellar season and putting a lot of pressure on the two incumbent Wallaby 7’s.  Sam Cane on the other side, tipped to become the new Richie, is shining as expected.  He leads McMahon in the tries scored, offloads and passes rankings.  However, Cane trails McMahon in carries, meters run and defenders beaten.

The Scrum

If you mentioned a year ago that an Australian Scrum was a strength, you would have probably been laughed at.  Nowadays, and in particular with the Rebels, it has become a weapon.  The Chiefs front row will struggle to contain James Hanson, Toby Smith and Jamie Hagan.  Dominating the scrum will be critical to give the Rebels any chance of a win.

The outside backs

This is where the superiority of the Chiefs is most evident.  Set aside Aaron Cruden’s pure genius, the Chiefs have in speedsters James Lowe and Toni Pulu two formidable wingers.  Damian McKenzie is a standout player at fullback, and is pushing for All Black honours this year.

By comparison, the Rebels’ attack is much flatter, and Debreczeni doesn’t have the same brilliant vision as Cruden.   With Cam Crawford out for the season, only ‘super’ Sefa Naivalu can compete in the speed department with the home team.

Tasman sensation: James Lowe


The Rebels need a massive performance to score a win against the Chiefs.  Unfortunately, they don’t look in a position to do so.  The gap between the Australian and the New Zealander conference is too big to convince us to backs the Rebels this week.

Chiefs by 10



1 Mitchell Graham
2 Nathan Harris
3 Hiroshi Yamashita
4 Dominic Bird
5 Brodie Retallick
6 Taleni Seu
7 Sam Cane (c)
8 Michael Leitch
9 Brad Weber
10 Aaron Cruden (c)
11 James Lowe
12 Anton Lienert-Brown
13 Seta Tamanivalu
14 Toni Pulu
15 Damian McKenzie


16 Hika Elliot
17 Kane Hames
18 Siegfried Fisi’ihoi
19 Michael Allardice
20 Tom Sanders
21 Kayne Hammington
22 Andrew Horrell
23 Sam Vaka


1 Toby Smith
2 James Hanson
3 Jamie Hagan
4 Sam Jeffries
5 Lopeti Timani
6 Colby Fainga’a
7 Sean McMahon
8 Adam Thomson
9 Nic Stirzaker (c)
10 Jack Debreczeni
11 Tom English
12 Reece Hodge
13 Mitch Inman
14 Sefa Naivalu
15 Mike Harris


16 Siliva Siliva
17 Cruze Ah Nau
18 Tim Metcher
19 Culum Retallick
20 Jordy Reid
21 Ben Meehan
22 Jonah Placid
23 Kotaro Matsushima


Referee: Angus Gardiner

Assistant Ref 1:Brendon Pickerill

Assistant Ref 2:Angus Mabey

TMO :Ben Skeen

Melbourne Rebels

Diego Ghirardi is a rugby fanatic from Italy, living in Los Angeles. Played on the wing, now mainly couch flanker or sideline halfback. Enjoys writing in broken English, which should be read in a Franco Cozzo accent to render it more original.

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