Home field advantage made all the difference in previous encounters between the Blues and Rebels, but will that trend continue in the first Super Rugby clash of 2017?
If history is any guide – and let’s hope it’s not, as the home side has won every encounter between these two sides – we can expect a high-scoring affair when the 2017 Super Rugby season kicks off at AAMI Park, Melbourne, at 19:45 local time (9:45pm New Zealand time).
The Blues and Rebels first met on Good Friday in 2011, with the Auckland-based side winning a little more easily on the scoreboard than on the field, as it took a late burst to first secure the bonus point and then pad out the margin to 40-23 in front of a home crowd at QBE Stadium.
In 2012, the Rebels triumphed 34-23 in Melbourne, but we got our revenge in a try fest at Eden Park the following year, winning 36-32 and scoring six tries to five.
More recently, the 2015 match against the Rebels was one to forget as the Blues went down 42-22 away from home, and the 36-30 victory last year was one to remember, especially as it was James Parsons’ first match as captain.
Defence could be key
Both teams scored roughly the same amount of points last season (Blues 374 v Rebels 365) but the Australian side conceded over 100 points more during the course of the season. That’s 18 more tries over 15 games, plus conversions.
So expect the Rebels to focus their efforts on containment, as our boys look to light up AAMI Park in Melbourne.
See the full team naming for this week’s match here.
2011: Blues 40-23 at Albany
2012: Rebels 34-23 at Melbourne
2013: Blues 36-32 at Auckland
2015: Rebels 42-22 at Melbourne
2016: Blues 36-30 at Auckland