Melbourne Rebels

Rebels v Cheetahs – Their Time Is Now

Rebels v Cheetahs – Their Time Is Now

Being an ardent Melbourne Rebels fan, my view is thankfully clouded to most of the ills of the cold, dark world. However, to the uninitiated, I would imagine that the Victorians would be quite the frustrating team to follow.

At the core of their being, seemingly, is delivering the unexpected. A smacking against the Waratahs in their first game was followed by a memorable last-minute victory against the Brumbies. Gutsy wins against the Hurricanes and Force later in the season were no indicator of the winless remainder of the season that followed. And, last week, the Rebels followed up their disappointing performance against NSW with one of the best defensive efforts in the club’s short history, to claim a point against the Reds at Suncorp.

They face a Cheetahs side that are quickly becoming desperate for a kick start, having received a good old-fashioned pasting at the hands of the Bulls, and throwing away four points late against both the Lions and, last week, the Brumbies. With the Crusaders and Hurricans to come, returning to the Republic winless could be too big an advantage to concede to their conference opponents this early in the competition.



1. Nic Henderson 2. Adam Freier 3. Laurie Weeks 4. Luke Jones 5. Hugh Pyle 6. Tim Davidson 7. Tom Chamberlain 8. Gareth Delve (c) 9. Richard Kingi 10. James O’Connor 11. Cooper Vuna 12. Lloyd Johansson 13. Mark Gerrard14. Lachlan Mitchell 15. Julian Huxley

REPLACEMENTS 16. Ged Robinson 17. Rodney Blake 18. Alister Campbell 19. Jarrod Saffy 20. Nick Phipps 21. Danny Cipriani 22. James Hilgendorf

Kurtley Beale and Mitch Inman get the week off through injury, Beale’s calf tear the biggest concern for the Victorians. Inman picked up a hamstring complaint at training, awarding Lloyd Johansson his first start in the XV, the first navy blue cap earned by a Victorian. Danny Cipriani is ill and his workload will likely be determined on the day. Good performances by Tim Davidson and Tom Chamberlain keep Jarrod Saffy on the pine, but it is likely he’ll play considerably longer than his 20-minute cameo last week.


1. Coenie Oosthuizen 2. Adrian Strauss (c) 3. WP Nel 4. George Earle 5. Izak van der Westhuizen 6. Heinrich Brussow 7. Davon Raubenheimer 8. Philip van der Walt 9. Tewis de Bruyn 10. Johan Goosen 11. Willie le Roux 12. Andries Strauss 13. Robert Ebersohn 14. Cameron Jacobs 15. Hennie Daniller

REPLACEMENTS 16. Rayno Benjamin 17. Sias Ebersohn 18. Piet van Zyl 19. Ashley Johnson 20. Justin Downey 21. Trevor Nyakane 22. Hercu Liebenberg

Andries Strauss returns from a two-week holiday after his round one citing and suspension. Coenie Oosthuizen is named despite a lingering foot injury and an appointment with a smart-talking donkey to rescue Princess Fiona.


AAMI Park opens its doors on a Sunday for the first time in the Rebels’ history, as the team is given a family-friendly timeslot to compete with the Formula 1 Grand Prix, taking place across the other side of the city.

The game kicks off at 4.10pm and will be live on FOX SPORTS 3 and 3HD.

These teams have met once before, in round 14 of last year. The Cheetahs overpowered the Rebels in a high scoring game, winning 41 to 21 at Free State Stadium.


Both sides have a serviceable back line that has, so far, been relatively starved of opportunity and form. The Rebels showed positive glimpses of attack against the Reds, with O’Connor, Vuna and Beale making great runs. For the Cheetahs, their cause will only be strengthened by the return of Andries Strauss, who will give the Cheetahs more attacking options in the centre of the ground, rather than having to rely on Willie Le Roux on the wing.

This game will come down to who makes the least defensive mistakes. The Rebels were brilliant for 60 of the 80 minutes against the Reds, giving away very little ground. The Cheetahs defence was good without being spectacular, they did very little wrong against the Brumbies, interesting scrum penalties notwithstanding.

With weakened backlines, the emphasis will be on the forward packs for Sunday’s game. With scoring opportunities at a premium, the packs will have to prioritise ball security, keeping the ball long enough to get it in a position to force a penalty. This game will likely tick over in multiples of three, as neither team has shown enough potential in the maul to claim that as an attacking asset.

Sunday’s game breaker will be Jarrod Saffy – he will set the tone for an incredible defensive effort from the home team late in the game. He is quickly becoming a player who can turn games on a 5-cent piece. Last week, Luke Jones, in a match-topping effort, made 17 tackles in 71 minutes. Saffy, coming off the bench for a 26-minute run, made 10 tackles (thank you to Dumbledore for that pearler).

He is a machine, and if he – still coming off an injury – can stomach a run for the majority of the second half, his influence will be immeasurable.


The Cheetahs need this game. They cannot afford to head to New Zealand next week without a win under their belt, because they’re unlikely to get one against a rested Crusaders and an unpredictable Hurricanes.

I think, however, that the Rebels need it more. This is not the same breed of Rebel that took the field last year – at times, they are playing some great rugby – but for little reward. They are a team that are desperate for points, and, over the next two weeks, they will need to get the maximum points available to have a chance at finals.

Hell, they need to get the maximum points available just to show that they can.

A win for the Rebels would not only be rewarding for the side and their supporters, it would be cathartic.

Their time is now.

Rebels by 12.


The Western Force’s off-field problems will be forgotten for 80 minutes as they aim to end a nine-year hoodoo againk.

The Blues started the season on fire, thumping the Rebels in Melbourne to the tune of 56-18, but then their season


The Blues

The Blues started the season on fire, thumping the Rebels in Melbourne to the tune of 56-18, but then their season


The Force

The Blues started the season on fire, thumping the Rebels in Melbourne to the tune of 56-18, but then their season


Key match ups

The Blues started the season on fire, thumping the Rebels in Melbourne to the tune of 56-18, but then their season


Key points

The Blues started the season on fire, thumping the Rebels in Melbourne to the tune of 56-18, but then their season



The last time the Force won in New Zealand was in 2014, beating the Highlanders in Dunedin, while it’s been nine years since the Force have tasted Super Rugby success against the Blues. It’s going to take a monumental effort

Blues by 12

Matt Hodgson – back in the team


1. Tom Robertson
2. Tolu Latu
3. Sekope Kepu
4. Dean Mumm
5. Will Skelton
6. Ned Hanigan
7. Michael Hooper (c)
8. Michael Wells
9. Nick Phipps
10. Bernard Foley
11. Cam Clark
12. David Horwitz
13. Rob Horne
14. Taqele Naiyaravoro
15. Israel Folau

16. Damien Fitzpatrick
17. Paddy Ryan
18. Angus Ta’avao
19. David McDuling
20. Jed Hollaway
21. Jake Gordon
22. Bryce Hegarty
23. Irae Simone


1. Fereti Sa’aga
2. James Hanson
3. Laurie Weeks
4. Culum Retallick
5. Steve Cummins
6. Jordy Reid
7. Colby Fainga’a
8. Amanaki Mafi
9. Nic Stirzaker (c)
10. Jackson Garden-Bachop
11. Marika Koroibete
12. Reece Hodge
13. Tom English
14. Sefa Naivalu
15. Jack Debreczenihe

16. Pat Leafa
17. Cruze Ah-Nau
18. Tyrel Lomax
19. Murray Douglas
20. Jake Schatz
21. Ben Meehan
22. Sione Tuipulotu
23. Ben Volavola

Match Details

Date: Sunday 21 May 2017

Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney

Kick-off: 4:05 pm AEST

Referee: Angus Gardner (Aus)

Assistant referees:
Graham Cooper (Aus), Amy Perrett (Aus)

TMO: George Ayoub (Aus)

Melbourne Rebels

Stuart Fazakerley is an enigmatic prop/inside centre for the Melbourne Rebels and Wallabies, who holds records for the most tries scored inside both a Super Rugby and Rugby Championship season. Outside of Rugby Challenge on Xbox, Stuart is a general battler who has been spreading the word of the game they play in heaven from all the benches he warms.

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