Super Rugby 2013 Preview 5: The Rebels

rebelsThis will be the Rebels’ third season of Super Rugby and by winning only seven matches in the past two years, it’s clear that they haven’t made an impact yet. At least head coach Damien Hill decided to stick around for another year and this type of stability might just see them make it in the long run.

Where they previously shopped for recognized names, they were rather moderate this time around and opted to draw in young talent from far and wide. The recruitment of experienced Reds flanker, Scott Higginbotham, got everybody to sit up straight, for in combination with Luke Jones and captain Gareth Delve, the trio could make quite a nuisance of themselves.

With Stirling Mortlock and Adam Freier having moved behind the scenes and the loss of crowd favorites Mark Gerard and Julian Huxley, one might wonder if they haven’t lost too much experience. However, I think getting Rory Sidey on board will strengthen the midfield considerably and I can’t want to see him and the likes of Kurtley Beale and Cooper Vuna run off an in-form and injury free James O’Connor.

If the Rebels can create pressure up front and get momentum going, we might see some magic in the backline. The tight five are a bit light in experience and it will take some doing to keep them calm in order to grind out the hard yards. Composure will be of the utmost importance and we all saw what they could do when they completely surprised the Crusaders last year.

Although I suspect that they might ruffle a few feathers this year, I just don’t see them playing consistently enough to compete with the big guns yet.

My prediction for the Melbourne Rebels is an 11th place finish.

by Jackie Smit

2 thoughts on “Super Rugby 2013 Preview 5: The Rebels

  1. The Rebels did real good and I liked O’Connor at fullback. He did a lot of running and kicked like a master. Beale was disappointing and I hardly ever heard Higginbotham’s name, very dramatic yellow card though and that cost me fantasy points. I hope Higg settles quickly.

    You mentioned that Luke Jones could be used as a flank, but it seems with Higg there he’ll probably play lock at the expense of Neville.

    It was good start for the Rebels, but I think their in for a touch match against the Brumbies.

  2. Result:
    Rebels (30) – Tries: Ged Robinson, Hugh Pyle, Richard Kingi. Conversions: James O’Connor (3/3). Penalties: O’Connor (3/3). Yellow Card: Scott Higginbotham

    Force (23) – Tries: Alfie Mafi (2), Richard Brown. Conversion: Kyle Godwin (1/3). Penalties: Godwin (2/3). Yellow Cards: Alby Mathewson, Chris Alcock.

    Brumbies (24) – Tries: Jesse Mogg (2). Conversions: Christian Lealiifano (0/1), Ian Prior (1/1). Penalties: Lealiifano (0/2), Nic White (2/3), Mogg (2/3).

    Reds (6) – Penalties: Mike Harris (2/5).

    Super Rugby Team of the Week – Round 1

    15. James O’Connor – Although it was difficult to look past Jesse Mogg’s try-double, the Rebels fullback looked the better all-round player and with a 100% kicking record, who wouldn’t want him in your team.

    14. Richard Kingi – Playing on the wing for the Rebels, the versatile busy body was all over the park and although he misses more hits than he makes, he is a strong runner and flamboyant finisher.

    13. Mitch Inman – Nothing much happened in the 13 jersey and the only thing that lifted the Rebels centre’s mediocre performance above that of the rest, was his ability to pilfer the ball a couple of times.

    12. Kyle Godwin – Much to the disappointment of many fantasy managers, Christian Lealiifano’s had a very bad day with the boot and although Godwin only had a 50% success rate and Lealiifano being the better defender, the Rebels midfielder kept to opposition quite busy.

    11. Alfie Mafi – Undoubtedly the shiniest star of Round 1. Not only did he clock the most running metres, besides O’Connor, but he broke through several tackles, and dotted down twice – even though his efforts were in vein and not enough to change the fate of the Force.

    10. Quade Cooper – Another area of mediocrity which forced me to choose the Reds flyhalf even though he had a scarcely above average game compared to his own high standards. He is not big on tackling though and my midfield now looks rather vulnerable. They’ll be dangerous on attack though and should just keep possession of the ball.

    9. Nic White – Will Genia is by far the best Australia has to offer in the halfback department and as he did not play, I had to go with the only other option on display. His useful boot saved Lealiifano from further embarrassment, helped the Brumbies secure their first win and therefore edged him ahead.

    8. Gareth Delve – The Rebels skipper was as rock solid as always. He carried the ball well, put the tackles in and led by example. Mention must go to Richard Brown for the immediate impact he made; in the 20 minutes he spent on the field he threatened the defence on a couple of occasions and scored a try.

    7. Liam Gill – Although David Pocock surely made his presence felt during his Brumby debut, the ever improving Reds flanker was as much of a nuisance, but carried the ball better and with more force.

    6. Angus Cottrell – This hardworking backrower has a habit of making the most of every opportunity he gets and yet again showed how he thrives on contact situations.

    5. Luke Jones – This young Rebel followed his breakout season up with a strong start to the 2013 season. His versatility makes him hard to replace and he didn’t put a foot wrong in the season’s first match.

    4. Hugh Pyle – His exceptional understanding of the line-out and formidable presence makes this blossoming second rower an asset for any team. He rarely misses a tackle and his strong ball carrying skills managed to get him across the chalk line once again.

    3. James Slipper – The Reds’ tighthead prop just managed to edge out Tatera Faulkner as he is a more concrete option on defence.

    2. Ged Robinson – It isn’t every day that you see Stephen Moore take the backseat, but even without taking into account his 5-pointer, the Rebels hooker made his presence felt right across the park.

    1. Greg Holmes – There was really nothing in this decision as none of the loosehead props did anything to write home about. Forced to choose between Greg and Pek Cowan, I opted to flip a coin.

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