Rugby Union 4 years ago

Preview: Landers v Rebels

  • Preview: Landers v Rebels

The Melbourne Rebels this weekend will travel to Dunedin to take on the Highlanders at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in what should be a big match for both teams.

The two teams sit next to each other on the Super Rugby ladder, with a solitary bonus point lifting the Highlanders higher; but both teams have been impressive this season.

The Rebels have shown their abilities with the new, young squad they have, recording wins in the first and last rounds so far this year, while the Highlanders (bar last round) have stayed in every game so far this season, dropping two agonisingly close games in rounds three and five -- otherwise it could've looked very different for them in terms of ladder position.

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We saw the Rebels last week dominate the play in the final 20 minutes, opting to scrap their woeful kicking game in favour of a hard-nosed, running style, which is what saw them shift momentum and take the win against highly-rated Brumbies. Surely coach Tony McGahan will opt for similar tactics this weekend.

As for the Highlanders, we know what weapons they posses in their team. All Black Ben Smith headlines the backline from fullback and is one of the most dangerous men in the competition when he gets some space, but highly-rated youngster Malakai Fekitoa will be one to look out for as well -- especially if he manages a few clean breaks.

The backrows of each team both boast some great talent, with Higginbotham, Fuglistaller and the re-included Sean McMahon coming up against one of the best-tackling teams in the league with Manu, Christie and Evans their counterparts.

The Rebels go in with a psychological advantage as well. The final round of last season saw them record a dramatic 38-37 victory at AAMI Park, and surely they will make the Highlanders remember what happened on that night last year heading into this weekends clash.

It hopes to be a close game, with the winner getting a jump on the other teams around them on the ladder. Can the Rebels good recent form get them over the line in their first overseas game, or will the Highlanders prove too strong at home?

Make sure to follow @JordanKounelis on Twitter for his views on the world of sport.

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