Mike Harris's goal-kicking will have a significant role to play for the Rebels against the Force in Perth, says MARIETTE ADAMS.
The 26-year-old fullback has slotted 13 out of 16 attempts so far this season, and a flawless kicking exhibition on Friday could help the Rebels win successive away matches for the first time ever.
After leading his side to a 20-10 win against the Crusaders, Harris kept the Rebels within touching distance against the Waratahs and Brumbies, although they came up short in the end. His boot can inflict more damage than in previous outings against a Force team that has conceded 38 penalties in four matches.
The Force have retained flyhalf Zack Holmes as their goal-kicker, despite him succeeding with just three out of seven.
In the hosts' favour, is the fact they are the leading ball-carriers in the competition with 450, and they also beat the Rebels 32-7 in last year's match in Perth.
Neither team was able to build on their impressive opening-round victories over the Waratahs and Crusaders respectively, and have failed to win a match since.
Both sides have made just one change to their starting lineups, with fullback Luke Burton coming in for the Force, while openside flank and co-captain Scott Fuglistaller is back for the Rebels.
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Force 2, Rebels 6
In Perth: Force 1, Rebels 3
STATS AND FACTS
– After winning their opening game, the Force have now lost three in a row, their worst run of losses since March to April 2013.
– Seven of the eight Super Rugby meetings between these two sides have seen the defeated side take home a losing bonus point.
– After winning their last away game against the Crusaders, the Melbourne-based side has the opportunity to win consecutive away games for the first time in their history.
– The Force have the worst tackling (83%), scrum (69%) and goal-kicking success (50%) rates so far this season.
– The Rebels have the worst lineout success rate in the tournament, making just 76% of their throws.
– The Force have conceded more tries on average than any other team this season, an average of 3.3 per game.
– Scott Higginbotham is Super Rugby’s new top try-scoring forward, surpassing Owen Finnegan, Jacques Botes and Liam Messam.
|Team||Top point-scorer||Top try-scorer||Most metres gained||Most tackles|
|Force||Sias Ebersohn (11)||Angus Cottrell, Francois van Wyk, Chris Alcock, Mitchell Scott, Luke Morahan, Nick Cummins, Steve Mafi (1)||Zack Holmes (177)||Ben McCalman (36)|
|Rebels||Mike Harris (33)||Lopeti Timani (2)||Mike Harris (179)||Sean McMahon (33)|
Force – 15 Luke Burton, 14 Marcel Brache, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Solomoni Jnr Rasolea,11 Nick Cummins, 10 Zack Holmes, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Brynard Stander, 5 Steve Mafi, 4 Sam Wykes (c), 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pekahou Cowan.
Subs: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Oliver Hoskins, 19 Adam Coleman, 20 Kane Koteka, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Sias Ebersohn, 23 Mitchell Scott.
Rebels – 15 Mike Harris, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), Scott Fuglistaller (c), 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Subs: 16 Tom Sexton, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Steve Cummins, 20 Colby Fainga'a, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Sefanaia Naivalu.
Photo: Martin Hunter/Getty Images