After dour wet weather rugby last week, teams will be hoping for dry, quick surfaces in Round 3 as the Reds look to consolidate their place at the top of the table while the Brumbies aim to retake the lead.
In their second game of the season, the Force will be determined to put on an 80 minute display when they head to Brisbane for the first time in three years. Meanwhile the Waratahs will want to exact revenge over the Brumbies who dismantled the Tahs 47-14 earlier this year.
Read on for the team lists as they come to hand, odds and analysis of both this weekend's fixtures.
Friday, July 17
Reds: Jock Campbell, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Hunter Paisami, Hamish Stewart, Filipo Daugunu, James O'Connor, Tate McDermott, Harry Wilson, Fraser McReight, Liam Wright, Lukhan Salakaia'Loto, Angus Scott-Young, Taniela Tupou, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Harry Hoopert.
Replacements: Alex Mafi, Dane Zander, Jack Straker, Ryan Smith, Tuaina Taii Tualima, Scott Malolua, Jack Flook, Bryce Hegarty.
Force: Jack McGregor, Byron Ralston, Marcel Brache, Nick Jooste, Brad Lacey, Jono Lance, Ian Prior, Brynard Stander, Tevin Ferris, Henry Stowers, Fergus Lee Warner, Jeremy Thrush, Kieran Longbottom, Feleti Kaitu'u, Angus Wagner.
Replacements: Andrew Ready, Chris Heiberg, Greg Holmes, Ollie Atkins, Ollie Callan, Jacob Abel, Henry Taefu, Kyle Godwin.
Odds [tab.com.au]: Reds $1.11, Force $6.50; Reds -16.5 $1.95, Force +16.5 $1.85
Verdict: The Reds were lucky to come away with points last weekend after they drew in 'Super Time' with the Rebels. Despite being the better team, the Reds were sloppy and failed to take advantage of possession and field position. With three changes to their side, including moving Chris Feauai-Sautia to the wing, the Reds will be a much sharper side with attacking weapons in James O'Connor, Hunter Paisami and Feauai-Sautia. The Force pushed the Waratahs in their first match back in Super Rugby, but couldn't hold onto momentum after the half-time break and were eventually run off the park. They'll find an even greater challenge in the Reds at home this week and will need to have a fast start if they want to get over the Reds. While the Force will be competitive, the Reds should come away with the points. Reds by 15
Saturday, July 18
Waratahs: Jack Maddocks, James Ramm, Joey Walton, Karmichael Hunt, Alex Newsome, Will Harrison, Mitch Short, Jack Dempsey, Michael Hooper, Lachlan Swinton, Rob Simmons, Ned Hanigan, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Tom Horton, Tom Robertson.
Replacements: Ben Donaldson, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Michael McDonald, Will Harris, Tom Staniforth, Angus Bell, Tetera Faulkner, Robbie Abel.
Brumbies: Tom Banks, Andy Muirhead, Tevita Kuridrani, Irae Simone, Tom Wright, Noah Lolesio, Joe Powell, Pete Samu, Tom Cusack, Rob Valetini, Murray Douglas, Darcy Swain, Allan Alaalatoa, Folau Fainga'a, James Slipper.
Replacements: Connal McInerney, Scott Sio, Tom Ross, Lachlan McCaffrey, Will Miller, Isaak Fines, Bayley Kuenzle, Mack Hansen.
Odds [tab.com.au]: Waratahs $4, Brumbies $1.25; Waratahs +10.5 $1.90, Brumbies -10.5 $1.90
Verdict: The Waratahs stumbled out of the blocks on Saturday against the Force and looked to be the team under mountains of pressure. They were sloppy with ball in hand and were inaccurate at the breakdown. A second half revival saw them turn the momentum and run away with the win, but pointless kicking from Will Harrison dogged their game. The Tahs scrum will bolstered with the return of Tom Robertson, while Jack Dempsey played his way back into the starting line-up, giving the Tahs even more muscle up front. The return of Tom Banks will be a boon for the Brumbies, who were without their start fullback in Round 1. Coming off a bye week, the Brumbies will be well rested and itching to get back on the park and dismantle the Tahs the way they did earlier this year. Despite having home grown advantage, the Tahs will struggle to get over the top of the Brumbies rampaging pack. Brumbies by 12