March 30, 2012
Rugby Park, Invercargill, Friday 5.35pm (AEDT)
Last meeting: Round 9 2011 - Highlanders 40 bt Rebels 18 at AAMI Park
Head-to-head: Played 1 Highlanders 1 Rebels 0
In Invercargill: First clash
Referee: Marius Jonker (RSA)
TV: Live, FoxSports 3
Tab Sportsbet: Highlanders $1.38 Rebels $2.90
Greg Growden writes: The Highlanders are ready. As their captain Jamie Macintosh said a few days ago: "No doubt the Rebels will have a few rocks stars back and we'll show them a bit of wet weather." Invercargill on a good day is like Melbourne on a shocker. The nightclubbing scene there isn't that hot either. And as they're in Invercargill, the Highlanders will probably throw a few dodgy Bluff oysters the Rebels way as well. So the Highlanders by plenty.
AAP writes: The Rebels are coming off their first win of the season and have rock stars James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale back on the field but they'll find the going tough in wild and windy Invercargill. The Highlanders will relish the chilly conditions after a surprise loss to the Brumbies ended their unbeaten start. While O'Connor will take over from the injured Danny Cipriani at five-eighth, Chris Noakes is lining up for just his second Super Rugby match, taking charge of an in-form backline. The home side have lost All Black hooker Andrew Hore but is boosted by the return of dominant back-rower Adam Thomson.
HIGHLANDERS: Ben Smith, Kade Poki, Tamati Ellison, Shaun Treeby, Hosea Gear, Chris Noakes, Aaron Smith, Nasi Manu, James Haskell, Adam Thomson, Jarrad Hoeata, Josh Bekhuis, Chris King, Jason Rutledge, Jamie Mackintosh (capt). Reserves: Brayden Mitchell, Ma'afu Fia, Culum Retallick, Doug Tietjens, Jimmy Cowan, Phil Burleigh, Buxton Popoali'i.
REBELS: Kurtley Beale, Mark Gerrard, Lachlan Mitchell, Lloyd Johansson, Cooper Vuna, James O'Connor, Nick Phipps; Gareth Delve (capt), Tom Chamberlain, Jarrod Saffy, Hugh Pyle, Luke Jones, Laurie Weeks, Adam Freier, Nic Henderson. Reserves: Ged Robinson, Rodney Blake, Alister Campbell, Michael Lipman, Nic Stirzaker, James Hilgendorf, Julian Huxley.