Preview: Rebels v Reds

The Rebels will look to make amends for the 45-25 loss to Bulls last week, as they host the Reds in Melbourne on Saturday.

The home side have recorded two wins from the last four encounters against the Reds. A more remarkable fact is that they have led the visitors at half-time on four seperate occasions and losing all four those matches.

Their two victories came after the scores were levell t half-time. The Reds have outclassed the home side on eight occasions since the Rebels' introduction to Super Rugby in 2011.

The Reds have only been successful in two of their last eight matches in Australia with the first of these two being against the Rebels when they beat them 36-20 in Round 17 in 2014.

There's plenty of pressure on the Queenslanders after their head coach Richard Graham was fired earlier this week after they sufferred heavy defeats to the Waratahs and Western Force in their first two matches.

Last time these teams met: A red card to James Horwill and a shoulder injury to fly-half Quade Cooper saw the Reds claiming a 23-15 victory over the Rebels in last year's Round Seven clash in Melbourne. This was the Rebels' first victory of that campaign. The return fixture in Brisbane was a completely different matter, however, with the Brisbane side ending a five week winning streak for the Reds, with an deserved 46-29 victory. With an impressive five second-half tries, this was the Reds best victory of 2015.

Players to watch: A second try for Rebels scrum-half Ben Meehan saw the Bulls denied a bonus point last weekend, the number nine was also instumental dictating matters when the Rebels came within striking distance of the opposition. The return of fly-half Jack Debreczeni to the starting line-up, last week allowed the visitors to gain valuable metres as the pivot made sure his side got over the advantage line.

Japanese full-back Ayumu Goromaru has been benched for this one after being the only to score any points in the loss against the Force last week. Young fly-half Jake McIntyre will be hoping to remain in the starting line-up after looking a little shaky against the Waratahs, he did however manage to get on the scoring sheet with a try. Flanker Hendrik Tui tops the list for the amount of carries and the home side will want to keep him in check.

Team news: Rebels head coach Tony McGahan has made just one change to his starting line-up Saturday’s derby with the Reds in Melbourne. Flanker Jordy Reid has been recalled to the Rebels run-on team for the side’s first home game of the season after coming off the bench to spark a second-half revival in the 45-25 loss to the Bulls last weekend. The Rebels four-try second half came after Reid’s introduction, which included an instrumental run from the 24-year-old own the right touchline to set up scrumhalf Ben Meehan’s second try.

Meanwhile, the Reds' prop Sef Fa’agase and hooker Andrew Ready will make their run-on debut. Fa’agase replaces Ben Daley, who has shifted to the reserves, while Ready comes in for Saia Fainga’a who will miss this weekend due to injury. Fainga’a’s absence means hooker Matt Mafi can potentially make his Super Rugby debut should he come off the bench. The other change to the pack sees flanker Waita Setu getting his first start, after making his debut last weekend, with Curtis Browning moving to the reserves. Anthony Fainga’a has been called into the starting line-up at inside centre for his first Super Rugby match since May last year, shifting Karmichael Hunt to starting full-back and Ayumu Goromaru to the bench.

Form: A first round 19-25 victory over the Force in Perth got their campaign off to a good start. Two tries for debutant Reece Hodge in extremely high temperature conditions ensures that his side claimed the victory. Outside centre Tamati Ellison setting up both of Hodge's tries with some fancy footwork.  The Rebels' second-half performance denied the Bulls a bonus point in a try-fest last week in Pretoria. A match which saw ten tries being scored, with the new bonus point system the Australians restricted their opposition to only scoring two tries more than them. The Queensland side have not recorded a win at all, losing both of the Round One and Two matches against the Waratahs and Western Force respectively. The loss against the Force being the most worrisome of these first two weeks for the 2011 champions.

Prediction: The Rebels will look to improve their first half performance. With two defeats, the Reds will hope to find some form but it's unlikely to happen this week. Rebels to win by 10.

Previous results:

2015: Reds won 29-46 in Brisbane
2015: Rebels won 23-15 in Melbourne
2014: Reds won 20-36 in Melbourne
2014: Rebels won 30-27 in Brisbane
2013: Reds 20-33 in Brisbane
2013: Reds won 13-23 in Melbourne
2012: Reds won 17-32 in Melbourne
2012: Reds won 6-11 in Brisbane

The teams:

Melbourne Rebels: 15 Jonah Placid, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Adam Thomson, 7 Sean McMahon (c), 6 Jordy Reid, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 James Hanson, 1 Toby Smith
Replacements: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Cruze Ah Nau, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Steve Cummins, 21 Mick Snowden, 22 Dan Hawkins, 23 Kotaro Matsushima

Reds: 15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Anthony Fainga’a, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Waita Setu, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Rob Simmons (c), 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 Sef Fa’agase
Replacements: 16 Matt Mafi, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Ben Matwijow, 20 Curtis Browning, 21 Scott Gale, 22 Sam Greene, 23 Ayumu Goromaru

Date: Saturday, March 12
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 19:40 local (08:40 GMT)
Referee: Paul Williams
Assistant Referees: Graham Cooper, Ed Martin
TMO: Peter Marshall