The Melbourne Rebels will do battle with the Reds this weekend in a battle of the bottom-placed sides in the Australian conference. The Reds have been well below their standards under Richard Graham in 2014, despite having some of the best Australian players in their squad.
The Rebels and the Reds are split only by points difference on the ladder; the Reds taking the lower position. Their year got off to a good start, getting two wins from their first three games -- a win away against the Brumbies, and a big win at home to the Cheetahs -- but since then they have only managed one more positive result: against the bottom placed Stormers at the end of March.
Currently they're on a five game losing streak which they hope to end at home against the Rebels, but they task might not be as easy as it seems with the Melbourne team improving each week despite not getting results, and the Reds seemingly falling away.
Once again, the outlook isn't that impressive for the Reds on the stats sheet. While they have scored more tries this season than the Rebels, they certainly aren't up there in the overall competition standings. In fact, unlike other oppositions Melbourne have come up against this season, the Rebels hold the upper hand in the majority of the key stats.
Obviously the likes of Quade Cooper and Will Genia are going to be the ones to watch from the Reds, but even these two mainstays of the Wallabies halves have been very much below-par this year.
Cooper ranks inside the top ten in the competition for total carries and defenders beaten, and ranks first for offloads meaning he has been the hardest to catch from the Reds squad, but also has the ability to kep the play going. Cooper also ranks fourth in the league and first in Australia for points scored, owing to his great kicking skills in front of the goals.
Jake Schatz and Rob Simmons have been the go-to guys for them in the lineout with 43 and 37 takes respectively -- the fourth and sixth highest in the league.
HAVE YOUR SAY: A team that is down on confidence will host the Rebels -- a team full of confidence but no results -- in Queensland. Can the Reds do it, or will the Rebels avenge themselves for their close results at home from the past two weeks?
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