Ben Mowen's work at the lineout will be key for the Brumbies against the Rebels on Saturday, says BRENTON CHELIN.
The Brumbies have always been a team that are capable of doing damage off of set-piece ball, and this season has been no different. While their scrum has been the least effective in this season's competition, their lineout has functioned consistently well, and they have the outgoing Wallabies captain to thank for that.
Mowen, who will depart for France at the end of the season, has been a towering figure for the Brumbies at lineout time. He has stolen more lineouts than any other player and also ranks highly in lineouts won on his own throw. That the Brumbies have scored more tries off lineout ball (16) than any other team is no coincidence.
The Brumbies know that defeat to the Rebels in Canberra on Saturday will all but end their Super Rugby play-off hopes, having slipped out of the top six after back-to-back losses in South Africa.
Stephen Larkham's team have yet to lose a game at home to the Rebels, but they did go down in the reverse fixture in Melbourne earlier this season.
The Rebels will welcome back experienced duo Tamati Ellison and Laurie Weeks for this one. Weeks returns after a one-week absence from an ankle injury, while Ellison has recovered from a minor knee knock suffered in training last week.
Meanwhile, Clyde Rathbone will make his first appearance of the season on the left wing while Pat McCabe will start in the last line of defence, with Jesse Mogg dropping to the bench. The only other change sees Ruan Smith win a spot at tighthead prop ahead of Wallaby Ben Alexander.
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Brumbies 5, Rebels 2
In Canberra: Brumbies 3, Rebels 0
MOWEN'S STATS THAT MATTER
9 – The number of lineouts he's stolen (Rank 1)
55 – The number of lineouts he's won on his own throw (Rank 3)
1,040 – The number of minutes he's played (Rank 5)
Source: Vodacom Rugby Stats App
Brumbies – 15 Pat McCabe, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Leali'ifano, 11 Clyde Rathbone, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (c), 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Fotu Auelua, 5 Scott Fardy, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Ruan Smith, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 JP Smith, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 Leon Power, 20 Jordan Smiler, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Andrew Smith, 23 Jesse Mogg.
Rebels – 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Male Sau, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Colby Fainga'a, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Caderyn Neville, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Subs: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Hugh Pyle, 20 Jordy Reid, 21 Josh Holmes, 22 Jack Debreczeni, 23 Tom Kingston.
Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images