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The two sides have had poor starts to their respective campaigns and will need to use this game to start climbing up the table if they are to have any hope of having realistic play-off hopes further down the line.
The Waratahs and the Rebels hold the last two positions in the Australian Conference table with the Sydneysiders on four points just behind the Reds who are on six points and the Force who are on five. While the Rebels languish at the bottom with zero, a whopping 10 points adrift of the Brumbies who are the pacesetters in the conference.
The Waratahs will take solace in the fact that they have taken competition points from all of their five previous games against the Rebels in Melbourne, winning four and picking up a losing bonus point in the other.
They also tend to be great travellers in their country, having won seven of their last nine games away from home in Australia, including each of the last two, winning by an average margin of 17 points in those seven matches.
The Rebels have proven to be one of the more well disciplined sides in the tournament as they boast the fewest penalties (7.3) conceded per game of any team in the competition this season.
Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson hopes the changes he made to his squad will get the ‘Tahs playing the style of rugby they are eager to play.
“We need to get our combinations clicking. Up until now we have been far too inconsistent and the mistakes have been on us to fix,” he said.
“We are pleased to have Bernard back, his absence has certainly been felt in those first four rounds.
“The short turn around I think has been good for us this week on the back of Saturday’s loss. The team came in Monday eager to do what needs to be done to get us out where we are right now.
“The Melbourne Rebels won’t be an easy side to face at home and certainly they were unlucky to get the loss they did last week. They will be as eager as we are to get the win on Friday.”
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Jack Debreczeni, 14 Marika Koroibete, 13 Tom English, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Sefa Naivalu, 10 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 9 Nic Stirzaker (c), 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Jordy Reid, 5 Steve Cummins, 4 Culum Retallick, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 James Hanson, 1 Fereti Sa’aga
Replacements(one to be omitted): 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Tom Moloney, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Dominic Day, 20 Lopeti Timani, 21 Jake Schatz, 22 Ben Meehan, 23 Mitch Inman, 24 Ben Volavola
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Reece Robinson, 13 Rob Horne, 12 David Horwitz, 11 Andrew Kellaway, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Jed Holloway, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Tom Robertson
Replacements: 16 Damien Fitzpatrick, 17 Paddy Ryan, 18 David Lolohea, 19 David McDuling, 20 Michael Wells, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Cam Clark, 23 Taqele Naiyaravoro