The Reds host the side that gave them a thumping in Round 1, the conference leading Brumbies.
In what was possibly the worst Reds performance since they last put in a performance like that, the Reds barely fired a shot against their great rivals from NSW. Richard Graham’s smart arsery flopped and the team were without cohesion and, worse, mongrel. Had the Tahs not also been coping with a dose of the yips, they might have been given a worse hiding than the Brumbies gave them a few weeks back.
By contrast, the Brumbies roll into town off a bonus point win over the Force. They are well drilled, smart and motivated, in short, what the Reds are not. Stephen Larkham looks to be one of those guys who was a class player and will be a class coach. It’s showing in the team.
The Reds don’t have any.
The Brumbies are second on the log and the only game they’ve dropped was a nail biter to the Chiefs in NZ. They will see this as a game they should be taking 5 points from and with a well drilled, abrasive pack, a smart half back pairing and a big and quick backline, you’d be hard pressed to look past them. The performance they gave in dispatching the Force last week was, by their high standards, workman-like and they’ll be wanting to step up this week.
James O’Conner is out with a corked thigh and Lachie Turner is on a mandatory stand down after getting a second head knock in as many weeks. This means Ben Tapuai goes to fullback and young gun Campbell Magnay comes in on the wing. This pushes Chris Feauai-Sautia over to the 13 spot from the wing.
Up front, Kev Horwill is back after his back has stopped spasming, meaning Dave McDurling drops to the bench. Marco Kotze keeps his spot after coming up from the bench to replace Kev last week.
By contrast to the injury plagued Reds, the Brumbies are unchanged from last week. Jessie Mogg still has an ear infection that caused his late withdrawal last week, so misses out.
Key Match Ups
Squeak Moore, cruelly culled by injury minutes into his debut as Wallaby skipper comes up against the guy did a darn good job deputising for him last year in Saia Fainga’a. Given the Reds like a maul or two (as do the Brumbies), his throwing will be crucial. To stand a chance, the Reds have to get the better of at least one of the set piece areas so his, and the other front rowers, will be tested at scrum time too.
Elsewhere, I expect Matt Toomua and Christian Lealiifano to give Ben Tapuai a searching examination at fullback. Ben can certainly expect a lot of high balls to arrive at the same time as Messers Kuridrani, Speight and Tomane do, so his ability to defuse bombs will be key to stopping the Brumbies easily gaining field position. I also expect that any positional mistakes he might make to be quickly found out.
The Reds will be dirty at themselves for last week’s debacle but I can’t see the Brumbies dropping this one. If they don’t get a bonus point and win by 12, they’ll be asking why.
Reds v Brumbies
James Slipper 1 Scott Sio
Saia Fainga'a 2 Stephen Moore
Sam Talakai 3 Ben Alexander
Marco Kotze 4 Rory Arnold
James Horwill 5 Sam Carter
Adam Thomson 6 Scott Fardy
Liam Gill 7 Jarrad Butler
Jake Schatz 8 Ita Vaea
Will Genia 9 Nic White
Nick Frisby 10 Matt Toomua
Campbell Magnay 11 Joe Tomane
Anthony Fainga'a 12 Christian Lealiifano
Chris Feauai-Sautia 13 Tevita Kuridrani
Chris Kuridrani 14 Henry Speight
Ben Tapuai 15 Robbie Coleman
Reserves James Hanson 16 Josh Mann-Rea
Ben Daley 17 Ruan Smith
Sef Faagase 18 JP Smith
Dave McDuling 19 Jordan Smiler
Curtis Browning 20 Blake Enever
Scott Gale 21 Michael Dowsett
Sam Johnson 22 Lausii Taliauli
Tom Banks 23 James Dargaville
Location: Suncorp Stadium , Brisbane Kickoff: Sat 14 Mar 19:40 Referee: Andrew Lees Assistant Ref 1: Matt O'Brien Assistant Ref 2: Damien Mitchelmore TMO : George Ayoub
Date: Saturday, March 14
Kick-off: 18.40 local (08.40 GMT, 21.40 NZST, 10.40 SAST)
Venue: Lang Park, Brisbane
Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)
Assistant referees: Matt O’Brien (Australia), Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)
Television match official: George Ayoub (Australia)