Young Rebels Face Stern Test

Source: Mark Evans/
Nick Phipps returns to the starting side for the Rebels. Source: Mark Evans/
After breaking a four game losing streak with a nine point win over the Stormers last week, the Melbourne Rebels  will be full of confidence going into their Super Rugby week 15 match against the Waratahs  on Friday night. The ‘Tahs themselves have reasons to be optimistic however, with their 6 point win over the Brumbies taking their moving them within touching distance of a finals berth.

James O’Connor and Kurtley Beale remain out of action for the Rebels, but welcome Wallabies halfback Nick Phipps  back into the starting side following an impressive performance coming off the bench against the Stormers seven days ago. The only other change to their lineup sees Luke Jones replace Cadeyrn Neville in the second row.

Michael Cheika has made several changes to the New South Wales side, with Berrick Barnes  and Matt Lucas returning to the starting lineup at the expense of Brendan McKibbin and Rob Horne moving to the bench. The broken arm sustained by Tatafu Polota-Nau against the Brumbies gives John Ulugia a chance at hooker, while Sekope Kepu is back in the first XV in place of Paddy Ryan.

The fact that Wallabies Rob Horne and Paddy Ryan can’t find a place in the run on side highlights just how well New South Wales is going, with the side making a late charge for a place in the finals. While the Waratahs have won three of their past four matches against Australian opposition in Super Rugby, they have been made to work hard in those matches, with all three victories coming by six points or less . When these sides met at Allianz Stadium in March, the Waratahs were 31-26 victors.

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