Rebels brace for Brumbies breakdown battle

Last updated 15:58 20/02/2013

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Unsatisfied with their first-up win, the Melbourne Rebels retain the same team but expect a tougher challenge from the Brumbies in Friday's Super Rugby clash at AAMI Park.

Coach Damien Hill has warned his team to prepare for a ferocious battle at the breakdown where the Brumbies, reinforced by the off-season arrival of David Pocock, matched an aggressive Queensland Reds onslaught to win their first round match last weekend.

"The Brumbies are a completely different unit to the one we beat in our inaugural season," said Hill after naming his team, which keeps Kurtley Beale at five eighth and fellow Wallabies utility star James O'Connor at fullback.

"We are going to have to improve on last week's performance, because this Brumbies side is definitely a step up.

"They will be one of the best sides at the breakdown this season and that will be our primary focus going into the match."

The Rebels had to battle hard to come from behind and escape with a 30-23 win over the underdog Western Force in their season-opener and new skipper Gareth Delve admitted his team were not content with that effort.

"We are certainly happy with four points, but a few heads were down afterwards," said Delve. "However it does show where we have set our standards this year.

"There were a couple of things we got right over the pre-season that we didn't back up."

Melbourne Rebels: James O'Connor, Lachlan Mitchell, Mitch Inman, Rory Sidey, Richard Kingi, Kurtley Beale, Nick Phipps; Gareth Delve (capt), Scott Fuglistaller, Scott Higginbotham, Luke Jones, Hugh Pyle, Laurie Weeks, Ged Robinson, Nic Henderson. Res: Shota Horie, Paul Alo-Emile, Cadeyrn Neville, Jarrod Saffy, Nic Stirzaker, Alex Rokobaro, Tom English.

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- AAP

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