Melbourne are expecting the Queensland Reds to be out for revenge after the Rebels’ controversial win in their last Super Rugby clash.
Ahead of Friday night’s AAMI Park duel, Rebels coach Tony McGahan said the Reds would still be dirty over the result.
In their round-14 clash last month, Melbourne’s Jason Woodward kicked his team to victory just before fulltime after Queensland forward Ed O’Donoghue was penalised for eye-gouging – for which he was subsequently cleared by SANZAR.
“It was a really close game and I’m sure they’re looking to get some revenge,” McGahan said.
“I know there’s been a lot of talk coming out of the Reds camp for the last week about different things and certainly the game itself.”
While the match will have no impact on the upcoming Super Rugby finals series, there’s plenty on the line for both teams.
Only two points separates the sides on the Australian ladder, with Queensland leapfrogging the last-placed Rebels with a surprise 38-31 win over New Zealand heavyweights the Highlanders before the break for the Wallabies-France Test series.
McGahan said his team was hungry to add to their four wins for the season with only three games remaining.
“We’re looking to get three wins,” McGahan said.
“We’ve had some really good play, although we’ve fallen away the last two games and we want to make sure we finish up the table as much as possible.”
Since they last played, the Rebels have signed three Reds players for next season, although they won’t be putting out the welcome mat just yet.
Queensland fullback Mike Harris, winger Dom Shipperley and their promising Australian under-20s fullback Jonah Placid are all now on Melbourne’s books.
Veteran halfback Luke Burgess, who was called into the Wallabies training squad after overcoming a fractured knee, will make a welcome return for the Rebels.
He was in sparkling form before the injury.
The Reds will be without both of their injured Test halves Will Genia and Quade Cooper for the first time since 2008, with Nick Frisby and Ben Lucas their replacements.