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Melbourne Rebels v Western Force

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Will the Brumbies be riding high?

The Brumbies take on the Reds as Super Rugby kicks off. The Breakdown previews the 2013 season.

PT0M0S 620 349

AAMI Park, Melbourne 7.40pm (AEDT)
Last meeting:
Round 13 2012 - Rebels 32 bt Force 31 at nib Stadium
Head-to-head:
layed 4 Rebels 3 Force 1
In Melbourne:
Played 2 Rebels 1 Force 1
Referee:
Angus Gardner (Aus)
TV:
Live, FoxSports 2
TAB:
Rebels $1.35, Force $3.15

Steve Samuelson writes: Scott Higginbotham makes his debut for the Rebels, who have Kurtley Beale as playmaker. Expect Beale and James O'Connor to swap between five-eighth and fullback during the match. However, the "no-names from Perth" are capable of an upset.

AAP writes: Kurtley Beale has won the battle with his good mate James O'Connor to wear the No.10 jersey and call the shots for a Rebels outfit aiming to come of age in 2013. The Wallabies amigos will still chop and change as they again shoulder most of the expectation in Melbourne.

Rebels playmaker Kurtley Beale.

Rebels playmaker Kurtley Beale. Photo: Getty Images

However, the recruitment of abrasive back-rower Scott Higginbotham adds an X-factor to a maturing and mobile pack. Without David Pocock and Nathan Sharpe, the Force are expected to struggle this season but should be strong up front. It's out wide where they are lacking in talent and depth. The visitors need ex-Blues halfback Alby Mathewson to spark their attack around the fringes. Watch out for forward recruit Hugh McMeniman wreaking havoc.

REBELS: James O'Connor, Lachlan Mitchell, Mitch Inman, Rory Sidey, Richard Kingi, Kurtley Beale, Nick Phipps, Gareth Delve (c), Scott Fuglistaller, Scott Higginbotham, Luke Jones, Hugh Pyle, Laurie Weeks, Ged Robinson, Nic Henderson. Reserves: Shota Horie, Paul Alo-Emile, Cadeyrn Neville, Jarrod Saffy, Nic Stirzaker, Alex Rokobaro, Tom English.

FORCE: Will Tupou, Patrick Dellit, Winston Stanley, Kyle Godwin, Alfie Mafi, Sam Christie, Alby Mathewson, Ben McCalman, Chris Alcock, Toby Lynn, Sam Wykes, Tetera Faulkner, Nathan Charles, Pek Cowan (c). Reserves: Heath Tessmann, Kieran Longbottom, Phoenix Battye, Richard Brown, Mick Snowden, Sias Ebersohn, Junior Rasolea

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