The Super XV kicks off this weekend with an all-Australian round which sees the Brumbies pitted against the Reds in a clash of last years two top teams from that conference. The Reds will be looking to silence the critics who have predicted an end to the Queensland side’s dominance of the region, while Jake White’s young chargers will be hoping they can continue to build after a 2012 season where they surprised many.
To get an insight in to this big early-season clash we’ve looked close to home, seeking the opinions of some of the most passionate supporters of each side. This week Trev, a die-hard Brumbies fan goes head-to-head with Green and Gold‘s Steve, a Reds man through and through.
This game against the Reds will provide an interesting view on how the Brumbies handled the offseason. I think a win would be a great indication that they are contenders this year, and I expect to see David Pocock have a real impact and assist Steve Moore, Ben Alexander and Ben Mowen in leading the Brumbies forwards around the field.
Firstly it’s the return of Quade Cooper. His contract negotiations and struggles with injury have been well documented, but signs from the first trial match against the Blues were very positive and it’s clear his mind and his body are back in sync. Also, his first foray into the ring would have done wonders for his confidence. I’m also interested to see how the Reds adjust to life after Scott Higgenbotham.
What strengths does your side have which will help them prevail over the opposition?
I suspect that the Brumbies forward pack will be able to dominate the Reds, opening up the game for David Pocock to make a real difference around the ruck. I expect Matt Toomua and Christian Lealiifano to combine well and make a real difference, and the back three of Jesse Mogg, Clyde Rathbone and Henry Speight should provide a real strength over the Reds.
I think the major strength is mental. The Reds had the Brumbies gunning for their spot at the top of the Aussie conference, but the men from Canberra just didn’t have enough. This will be burning in the back of both teams’ collective minds and will clearly give the Reds the edge.Also, the boot of Aussie Mike Harris guarantees any transgressions in the red zone will cost the Brumbies. This will allow the Reds to create scoreboard pressure which coupled with the already discussed mental edge will see the Brumbies crumble.
What weaknesses do the opposition have which your side will look to exploit?
The key weaknesses that the Brumbies should look to exploit will be the lack of leadership without Genia and Horwill, the stronger pack that the Brumbies bring into this game, and the lack of structured support for Quade Cooper’s improvisation. Overall, I expect that the Brumbies will be keen to make up for the disappointment of last year, and will have more drive to win than the Reds.
Plenty. The team of nobodies that make up the Brumbies had a good year last year, but we have all seen a player burst on the scene and make a huge impact, then the next season everyone knows what to expect so they do nothing in year two. Imagine a whole team suffering second season syndrome at once! Ewen McKenzie will exploit that.They’ve recruited David Pocock to replace the void left by Michael Hooper but they’re different players, Pocock won’t provide them the same linking play so they won’t look the same. Also a key part of their big year last year, Christian Lealiifano, is coming back from a major injury, and there will be question marks over how he will go.
Who do you think will be the key player for your side?
As mentioned, I suspect that David Pocock, Steve Moore and Ben Alexander will have a real impact in the forward pack, while the Matt Toomua and Christian Lealiifano combination in the mid-field and the exciting back three of Jesse Mogg, Henry Speight and Clyde Rathbone will really shine for the Brumbies.
Quade Cooper. Do I need to say more? OK, Quade has a reputation for risking his arm and pulling high risk maneuvers that can go either way. Though he does do that occasionally, saying that is all there is to him is missing his greatest strength which is his ability to run a game. He uses his vision and broad skill set to ensure the right option is able to be taken at the right time. Watch him control the forward pack and call runners so there are multiple questions being asked of the defence at all times. He is looking sharp and will be back to his best.
Which player could be a surprise package this year?
Andrew Smith will be a surprise package this year, and I think he has matured to be able to push for Wallabies selection in the early part of the Super season. Also, expect big things from Robbie Coleman off the bench.
I like the look of Nigel Ah Wong, a big strong guy who has pace to burn having played wing before. At 193cm and 104kg Ah Wong is a physical specimen to say the least, and it just remains to be seen how the Reds prefer to use him.
How will the game unfold?
I think the Brumbies will get out to a quick start and run in a try or two, before the Reds settle down and Quade Cooper starts to have an impact in the middle of the game But I suspect the Brumbies will run away with the win in the final 20 minutes, with those key players, and the support of the 20000 that they are hoping for at Bruce Stadium, playing a major role. Brumbies with a bonus point win, 35 – 24
Early scoreboard pressure from the Reds will break the Brumbies mentally before Quade unleashes the Reds backline and destroys the Brumbies for the rest of the season.
That or it will be a typical dour Aussie derby. Score Prediction?
As above, either 35-10 or 6-3 to the Reds!