|Reds v Rebels: Friday 7.40pm (AEST)
at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
|Best Bet: Rebels WIN ($2.15)
Value Bet: Rebels Win By Over 7.5 Points ($3.90)
It’s only pride on the line at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night – and both teams’ pride has been dented by savage beatings at the hands of heavyweight teams in recent weeks.
Greg Holmes returns for his Reds swansong, while injured duo James Slipper and Jack Tuttle have been replaced by Sef Fa’agase and Tom Banks respectively. Liam Gill will captain the side. Saia Fainga’a and Ben Daley return to the bench.
The Rebels have made four changes, with Luke Jones, Sean McMahon and Mitch Inman all returning from injury and Paul Asquith named to make his run-on debut at fullback. Lopeti Timani and Mike Harris are both out injured.
In 11 previous clashes between the Aussie rivals, the Reds have won eight games to the Rebels’ three. The Reds also hold a 4-1 advantage at Suncorp Stadium, but the Rebels have won two of the last three games – including a two-point win in Melbourne earlier this season.
After a 43-24 away loss to the Waratahs in Round 15, the Reds were obliterated 50-5 at home by the Chiefs. The Reds are 3-10-1 this year with the 15th-ranked attack and 14th-best defence.
The Rebels have been appalling since coming back from the Test rugby break, hammered 57-31 by the Stormers at home and humiliated 85-26 by the Crusaders in Christchurch. Their record has slipped to 6-8, with the worst defence in the Australasian Group and the 13th-ranked attack in the competition.
The loose forwards and captains, Liam Gill and Sean McMahon, need to lead the way for their struggling teams.
Stats That Matter
The Reds are 5-9 against the start in 2016, while the Rebels are 4-10 ATS this season. The Reds are 5-9-1 at home since the start of last year (6-9 against the line). The Rebels are 5-7 (overall and ATS) on the road since the start of last season. Four of the teams’ last eight games have been decided by 13+. Home sides are 70-52-3 this season (66-60 against the start). Home favourites are 62-21 overall and 48-34 ATS in 2016.
The Reds have barely improved all season and have been battered by injuries in recent weeks, while it’s hard to imagine the Rebels were shaping as a finals threat not all that long ago. The Melbourne side’s defensive aptitude has gone out the window in recent weeks, but at least they are scoring some points – an area where the Reds are struggling badly, particularly with so many disruptions to their backline. The Rebels are outstanding value as outsiders here, especially with Jones and McMahon back on deck.
The Way It’s Shaping
Rebels by 10
Rebels WIN ($2.15)
Rebels Win By Over 7.5 Points ($3.90)