Melbourne Rebels

Preview Rebels v Sharks

Preview Rebels v Sharks

Ok, here’s the thing; I haven’t really seen any Rebels action up close and personal for about 4 weeks now. There was the small matter of me traipsing around the French country-side while the boys battled the Chiefs then the Force, and of course I got back to Melbourne just in time for the bye.
No rugby for that long makes daz a hungry boy!
I had some time to reflect on my Melbourne Rebels while I drank champagne at the top of the Eiffel tower, ate crepes at a dozen different cafes, and quaffed kegs of beer everywhere. What did those reflections come to, I hear you ask? Well, first and foremost, I was wondering if Hugh Pyle will have room for me to stay at his new place in Paris.
What does this have to do with the game at hand, you ask? Nothing at all. I’m just waffling on about France. And you guys thought you were going to be reading a preview of a rugby game. How silly of you.
Ok, since you insist, let’s talk rugby.
On the podcast last night I put my ‘nads on the chopping block and said the Rebels will win this one. Gasps of shock from my fellow panellists ensued, and I was quickly reminded that the Shorks are competition leaders. But I stand firm. I’m a Rebel, dammit!

The positives:

1) The Rebels stand about 2 metres taller at the Stockade and they will be buoyed by reclaiming the scalp of the Force before the bye. They will be out to show that in Australia, we eat battered Shark with our chips.

2) The bye week will have them refreshed and Coach Tony will have had 2 weeks to prepare for this game.

3) Ball in hand, multi-phase, running and attacking rugby is in the DNA of this team. All it takes is a sniff to fire the self-belief. On Friday night, that sniff needs to come early. When it does, hold on, kiddies! The rocket will shoot for the moon.

4) Mitch Inman. ‘Nuff said.

The negatives:

1) If the Rebels come out and spend the first 30 minutes kicking away possession and playing hot-potato, the Sharks will have put 30 points on the board before the Rebels realise their gameplan sucks. Unlike the game against the Brumbies where the Rebels did that very thing, then stormed home in the second half, the Sharks will likely not give up any advantage so easily.

2) The Forwards. A young and relatively inexperienced Rebels side is going to go head to head with what is essentially the Springbok forward pack. This may not be fun to watch, and I suspect less fun to be involved in.

3) The Sharks are coming off a loss at Durban. They will not be looking for back to back losses, especially against a lower ranked side at home or not. Close the beach and get the choppers in the air; these Sharks could be smelling blood in the water.

The Fearless Prediction

What this will essentially boil down to is a showdown between Jake White and Tony McGahan. Which coach has prepared best? Melbourne is expecting 14 degrees, rain and wind, so this will require good ball skills, discipline and a little bit of mongrel at the breakdown.
The good money is on the Sharks using their set-piece skills to dictate the flow of the game. But I see potential for them to take the Rebels a bit lightly and try to be a bit clever by half, and these young and fearless Rebels may just have the nous to capitalise on that.
If not, Gawd ‘elp us!

Rebels by 3.

Melbourne Rebels

Not a single bit of factual information has ever been blogged by me, of which I am extremely proud. Opinion pieces. Don't hate. Read. Think. Then comment.

More in Melbourne Rebels