McMahon, Fainga'a return for Aussie derby

Thu, 11 May 2017 09:41
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TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Melbourne Rebels will welcome back Sean McMahon and Colby Fainga'a for Saturday's Australian derby.

The Rebels take on the Reds in Melbourne.

Rebels coach Tony McGahan has named a settled line-up for the Round 12 clash, with only one change to the starting XV  - the return of stand-in captain Colby Fainga'a after a week on the sideline.

Fainga'a was a late withdrawal against the Lions last weekend after the flank failed to pass a fitness test for a thigh injury during the pre-game warm-up.

McMahon is set to make his first appearance of the 2017 Super Rugby season after he was named on the reserves bench.

The Wallaby back row forward has missed the first 11 rounds of the season after a knee strain during rehabilitation delayed the 22-year-old's return from an ankle injury sustained during the Rugby Championship last year.

"It's timely to get back some key personnel with the return of Colby [Fainga'a] and Sean [McMahon]to provide some much-needed experience and depth against a quality Queensland Reds outfit," McGahan said.

"We know that we let ourselves down against the Lions last weekend with poor execution so our focus this week is to perform the basics otherwise the Reds will punish our mistakes."

McGahan has kept the same tight five with no changes to the front row of Toby Smith, James Hanson and Laurie Weeks, along with Steve Cummins and Dominic Day in the locks.

The halves partnership of scrumhalf Ben Meehan and flyhalf Ben Volavola, who was named on Wednesday in Fiji's 36-player squad for June's five-Test international series, will start for the second consecutive game.

The Rebels have named an unchanged back line for the third week with Mitch Inman and Tom English to combine in the centres, Marika Koroibete and Sefa Naivalu on the wings and Reece Hodge at fullback.

McMahon will be joined on the reserves bench by Siliva Siliva, Fereti Sa'aga, Tyrel Lomax, Culum Retallick, Harrison Goddard, Will Miller and Jack Maddocks.

The Rebels will contest its third Australian derby of the year when they host the third-placed Reds on Saturday. Just four points separate the two sides on the Australian Conference ladder with six rounds remaining.

The Rebels have claimed victory in four of the six previous meetings against the Reds, including the two encounters last season.

Melbourne Rebels: 15 Reece Hodge, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Tom English, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga'a (captain), 6 Hugh Sinclair, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Steve Cummins, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 James Hanson, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Fereti Sa'aga, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Culum Retallick, 20 Sean McMahon, 21 Harrison Goddard, 22 Will Miller, 23 Jack Maddocks.

Date: Saturday, May 13
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 19.35 (09.45 GMT)
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Shuhei Kubo (Japan), Ed Martin (Australia)
TMO: Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)

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Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 12 6 1 5 31
Rebels 12 6 0 6 30
Reds 11 4 0 7 18
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Crusaders 13 11 0 2 50
Hurricanes 12 10 0 2 45
Chiefs 12 8 0 4 37
Highlanders 11 7 0 4 32
Blues 12 3 0 9 17
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Team P W D L Pts
Lions 13 7 0 6 36
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Bulls 12 5 0 7 24
Stormers 13 5 0 8 23