Betham to replace injured Rooney at Rebels - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Betham to replace injured Rooney at Rebels

By Melissa Woods 02/03/2011 10:22:01 PM Comments (0)

The Melbourne Rebels are counting on explosive back Peter Betham to bring some spark to their attack for their round three Super Rugby meeting with the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday.

The Rebels made one enforced change to the side that escaped with a last-ditch one-point win over the Brumbies, with reserve back and former league star Luke Rooney ruled out with an abdominal strain.

Kiwi Betham has been brought in to fill the void and after two lean matches with the ball in hand, his speed may be just the fillip the Rebels need.

While the Rebels defence was first-rate against the Brumbies, clocking a mammoth 213 tackles - just shy of the Super record of 220 for a match, they only managed to break through for one try, securing just 27 per cent of the ball.

"He can spot a gap, he's got good acceleration, he's got good hands, so as long as we can get him into the game, he can provide a real spark," said Rebels assistant coach Damien Hill, who coached the 22-year-old to a Sydney grade premiership at Sydney Uni.

Betham's last outing for Melbourne was in their final pre-season trial against the Crusaders when their coach, former All Black Todd Blackadder, singled him out for special mention, saying he "walked through our defence at times".

He can play wing, fullback or in the centres.

Hill believed the Rebels' backline was a good balance of speed, organisation and ball-running ability.

"Attack will take a little bit longer, just with combinations and linking our set piece to our first phase," he said.

"It's coming along well but there's definitely room for improvement.

"Our kicking game is working well, (fullback) Mark Gerrard had an outstanding game.

"It's just a matter of getting the balance right."

The Chiefs have led their first two matches, against the Brumbies and the Highlanders, but have failed to crack a win.

Hill said that any side led by All Blacks fullback Mils Muliaina was a danger.

"I thought they were really unlucky against the Brumbies and that game against the Highlanders was really close as well," Hill said.

"It's their first game at home, they're a strong physical team and have got a back three that can do anything."

Hill said the side had eased their training load slightly this week to recover from their huge tackling effort but everyone was in good shape for their first match on the road.

"This is more like we're in the mode of the long season ahead of us, week-to-week we know what to do," he said.

Rebels: Mark Gerrard, Lachlan Mitchell, Stirling Mortlock (capt), Julian Huxley, Cooper Vuna, Danny Cipriani, Nick Phipps, Gareth Delve, Michael Lipman, Jarrod Saffy, Kevin O'Neill, Adam Byrnes, Greg Somerville, Ged Robinson, Nic Henderson. Res: Heath Tessman, Laurie Weeks, Alister Campbell, Tom Chamberlin, Richard Kingi, Afusipa Taumoepeau, Peter Betham.

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