Rebels wing Dom Shipperley can make the Reds rue their decision to let him leave Brisbane when the sides meet at Suncorp Stadium on Friday, writes MARIETTE ADAMS.
Shipperley and Mike Harris headed to Melbourne after they were forced out the doors in Queensland to make way for marquee signings James O'Connor and Karmichael Hunt. And while Shipperley missed the Rebels' match against his former team in April, Harris was at the forefront of the 23-15 victory with a late penalty goal to deny the Reds a losing bonus point.
Now Shipperley will return to his old stomping ground where he enjoyed so much success and having played a pivotal role for the Rebels with strong performances against the Chiefs and Blues the past fortnight, he looks set to repeat the feat at Suncorp.
The Reds on the other hand will want to make amends and deliver a better all-round performance a week after they took 58 points against the resurgent Crusaders. The 2011 champions are reeling at the bottom of the combined Vodacom Super Rugby log with just two victories (against the Force and Cheetahs) in 11 games this season. If they want to get one over the Rebels, the likes of O'Connor and Hunt will have to step up and show why they were singled out as first-choice players.
The Rebels have recalled centre Tamati Ellison and flank Sean McMahon as the only changes to the starting XV and tighthead prop Laurie Weeks to the match 23.
In a new-look Reds backline, rookie flyhalf Jake McIntyre replaces the injured Nikc Frisby, Hunt will start at outside centre with Samu Kerevi on his inside, and O'Connor shifts to fullback with Lachie Turner on the wing.
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Reds 7, Rebels 2
In Brisbane: Reds 3, Rebels 1
STATS AND FACTS
– The Reds' largest Super Rugby victory, both in terms of winning margin and points scored, came against the Rebels in March 2011 (53-3).
– The Melbourne-based outfit has won two of the three meetings between these sides since the start of last year. The first six meetings between them were won by the Reds.
– A losing bonus point has been scored in two of nine meetings between these franchises.
– The Rebels have won four of their last five; a run which is their best ever in the competition. Their 42-22 win over the Blues last week equalled their highest points haul in a match and was their second largest victory in terms of margin.
– The Reds rank second for lineout success rate (90%) this season, while the Rebels place last in this regard (78%).
|Team||Top point-scorer||Top try-scorer||Most metres gained||Most tackles|
|Reds||Samu Kerevi (25)||Samu Kerevi (5)||Lachie Turner (509)||Adam Thomson (109)|
|Rebels||Mike Harris (100)||Nic Stirzaker, Lopeti Timani, Scott Higginbotham (3)||Sefenais Naivalu (571)||Sean McMahon (108)|
Reds – 15 James O’Connor, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Karmichael Hunt, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Lachie Turner, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 James Horwill, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 James Hanson, 1 James Slipper (c).
Subs: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Pettowa Paraka, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Ed O’Donoghue, 20 Lolo Fakaosilea, 21 Nick Frisby/Scott Gale, 22 Sam Greene, 23 Ben Tapuai.
Rebels – 15 Mike Harris, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Sefanaia Naivalu, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Jordy Reid, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Subs: 16 Tom Sexton, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Laurie Weeks, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Colby Fainga'a, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Tom English
Photo: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images