Melbourne Rebels

Preview: Rebels vs. Sharks

Preview: Rebels vs. Sharks

The Rebels hope to strike it rich as they play their first Super Rugby match outside Melbourne when they take on the well-travelled Sharks in the Goldfield town of Ballarat on Saturday afternoon.


After disappointing performances in the first two rounds to the season, the Rebels picked up a vital first win against the Waratahs last weekend.  They will be hoping they can kick on against the Durban based Sharks who are coming to the end of a month-long tour.

The Rebels proved a more cohesive unit last week after leaking 36 and 39 points respectively in their first two matches and, in atrocious condition, they came away with the win against their bogey team from north of the border.

With a number of new players this season, perhaps it’s understandable that the Rebels looked disjointed in the first two games. Against the Waratahs, the back row looked more balanced with Isi Naisarani’s bullocking runs being complemented by Dickie Hardwick’s pilfering and Michael Wells’ graft.

Ryan Louwrens had a standout performance sniping around the ruck, whilst winger Andrew Kellaway, who replaced injured Wallaby Reece Hodge midway through the first half, scored two late tries to seal the win.

Ryan Louwwrens played a great game against the Waratahs

The question is whether they can continue to improve.

Having won their first match at home, the Durban-based Sharks overwhelmed the Highlanders in their first tour match but after suffering injuries to key players early in the match, they came up short against an impressive Hurricanes team.

This Week

The Rebels will be looking to turn around a losing streak of six games against South African sides dating back to March 2018 (coincidentally when they beat the Sharks in Melbourne). They have the home ground advantage……well sort of, they have previously played matches and held training camps in Ballarat, but will this feel like home match?

The Sharks have lost a number of players after the World Cup, including the talismanic Tendai Mtawarira, and the Du Preez brothers. They are still a formidable outfit, as the Bulls and Highlanders have found out, and have a number of exciting youngsters starring this season.

Can this young team after 3 weeks on the road bounce back from last week’s loss as they take a bus up the Western Freeway to the Goldfield town of Ballarat?

The Rebels forwards showed a marked improvement to their physicality last week and they’ll need to continue that against an aggressive and mobile Sharks pack.

The Rebels forward pack last week were strong against the Waratahs.

The ability to get over the gain line could be the deciding factor in this match. Both teams have electric backlines and front-foot ball will be the key to unlocking the defences.

In treacherous conditions, the Rebels backline started to show some nice moves with Ryan Louwens proving the catalyst to their best rugby of the season. His sniping runs and quick delivery helped the wingers get around the Waratahs defence. The Rebels will be without two Wallabies with Matt To’omua and Reece Hodge sidelined with groin injuries, Andrew Deegan and Andrew Kellaway get a start in the backline.

It’s going to be a fascinating encounter in what is forecast to be perfect rugby weather.

Players to Watch

Who should we keen an eye on this week?


Ryan Louwrens
Louwrens is rewarded for his fine form since coming on a substitute again the Brumbies. His crisp passing and continual probing stretched the Waratahs last week and he’ll need to be on song again if the Rebels are to prevail.

Isi Naisarnai
In the press recently Naisarani talked up the focus on physicality and his barnstorming runs were a feature against Waratahs earning him a spot in the Super Rugby team of the week.

Andrew Deegan
Big shoes to fill taking the place of the seasoned Matt To’omua. With a stellar NRC campaign under his belt, all eyes will be on whether Deegan can step up to Super Rugby level after some patchy form in the preseason.


Curwin Bosch
The Five-Eighth returns to the starting line-up having jetted in from South Africa. Bosch has shown a lot of maturity beyond his 22 years and is making an impact for the Sharks now he’s moved up from full back. It’ll be interesting to see if all the kilometres travelled will hinder his play.

Sanele Nohamba
After a lively debut coming on early last week after Chamberlain failed an HIA. The scrumhalf did a great job covering flyhalf against the Hurricanes earning him a start in his specialist position.

Aphelele Fassi
The gliding full back has averaged over 100m gained in the first 3 rounds of Super Rugby this season. Another youngest who is having a breakout start to the season. Solid under the high ball and not afraid to run at the line, often leaving defenders in his wake.


It’s going to be a fascinating encounter in what is forecast to be perfect rugby weather but can this young Sharks team, after 3 weeks on the road bounce back from last week’s loss as they take a bus up the Western Freeway to the Goldfield town of Ballarat.

Rebels by 5



1. Matt Gibbon
2. Steven Misa
3. Jermaine Ainsley
4. Ross Haylett-Petty
5. Matt Philip
6. Michael Wells
7. Richard Hardwick
8. Isi Naisarani
9. Ryan Louwrens
10. Andrew Deegan
11. Marika Koroibete
12. Bill Meakes
13. Campbell Magnay
14. Andrew Kellaway
15. Dane Haylett-Petty

16. Anaru Rangi
17. Cameron Orr
18. Ruan Smith
19. Gideon Koegelenberg
20. Angus Cottrell (VC)
21. Rob Leota
22. Frank Lomani
23. Tom English


1. Ox Nche
2. Kerron van Vuuren
3. Thomas du Toit
4. Ruben van Heerden
5. Hyron Andrews
6. James Venter
7. Tyler Paul
8. Sikumbuzo Notshe
9. Sanele Nohamba
10. Curwin Bosch
11. Makazole Mapimpi
12. Andre Esterhuizen (C)
13. Jeremy Ward
14. Madosh Tambwe
15. Aphelele Fassi

16. Craig Burden
17. Mzamo Majola
18. John-Hubert Meyer
19. Le Roux Roets
20. Henco Venter
21. Louis Schreuder
22. Marius Louw
23. Lwazi Mvovo


Date: Saturday 22 February
Venue: MARS Stadium, Ballarat
Kick Off: 2:45pm local
Referee: AJ Jacobs
AR1: Damon Murphy
AR2: James Quinn
TMO: George Ayoub

Melbourne Rebels

More in Melbourne Rebels