Rebels break their Waratahs duck
The Rebels achieved another first – a win over the Waratahs. The men from Melbourne edged their Sydney rivals 24-22 in a Super Rugby Round 15 encounter on Friday.
In a typical Aussie derby – hard and uncompromising, but littered with errors – the home team outscored the Tahs by two tries to one.
The victory – coming on the back of a first-ever win over the Stormers last week – ensured the Rebels continued their climb up the ladder, past the Stormers into 11th place.
A bitterly disappointed Waratahs captain Dave Dennis admitted his team sat back and "expected things to happen", allowing the Rebels to dictate terms when it mattered most – in the closing stages of the second half
Jason Woodward and Berrick Barnes exchanged early penalties, before the first try of the match in the 10th minute.
The Rebels won a turnover in the 22 and Hugh Pyle went close, before they sent it down the backline where Tom English went over in the corner. Woodward bounced the conversion over off the upright to make it 10-3.
Barnes (two) and Woodward (one) continued to do battle with the boot as the penalty count mounted – the Rebels leading 13-9 just after the half-hour mark.
Five minutes short of the break the Waratahs pushed hard and work their way into the Rebels 22 with some great interplay, only for the Rebels to turn the ball over under their uprights. However, as they shunted the ball sideways in the hope of finding a kicker Israel Folau intercepted five metres out and jogged over for the visitors' first try. Barnes added the conversion to give the Tahs the lead for the first time – 16-13, which is what it was at half-time.
The Rebels found themselves on the wrong side of the referee's calls in the early stages of the second half, with Barnes slotting one of those penalties to make it a six-point (19-13) lead.
Soon afterwards Barnes limped off with what appeared to be a leg injury sustained while taking the last penalty kick. Even though he tried bravely to play through the pain barrier, he lasted no more than a few minutes.
Woodward pulled three points back (16-19) as the match approached the final quarter and levelled it up at 19-all in thew 65th minute.
However, replacement Brendan McKibbin put the Tahs back in the lead a minute later, as the penalty count continued to mount against both teams – 22-19.
Still the Rebels kept charging at the Waratahs and their never-say-die attitude earned them great reward – Tom English going over in the right corner for his second four minutes from time. The conversion was wide, leaving the game delicately poised at 24-22.
The restart was a shocker for the Rebels – the clearance kick going directly into touch and they then ended up conceding a penalty for illegal tactics at the maul. McKibbin, from 20 metres out, pushed it wide of the upright.
The Waratahs threw everything into attack, looking for the winner, but inside the 22 the Rebels won a turnover and hacked the ball into touch to secure the win.
Man of the match: Berrick Barnes, before his injury, directed play and kept the Waratahs in the game. Scott Higginbotham was, as usual, involved in all that was positive about his team, while Jason Woodward was great value with his boot, on defence and with some searching runs – winning him our award.
For the Rebels:
Tries: English 2
Pens: Woodward 4
For the Waratahs:
Pens: Barnes 4, McKibbin
Rebels: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Tom English, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Rory Sidey, 11 Lachlan Mitchell, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Scott Higginbotham (captain), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Jarrod Saffy, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson.
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Paul Alo-Emile, 18 Cadeyrn Neville, 19 Gareth Delve, 20 Nic Stirzaker, 21 James Hilgendorf, 22 Kimami Sitauti.
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Peter Betham, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Matt Lucas, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 John Ulugia, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Luke Holmes, 17 Paddy Ryan, 18 Will Skelton, 19 Mitchell Chapman, 20 Brendan McKibbin, 21 Rob Horne, 22 Tom Kingston.
Referee: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia), Matt O'Brien (Australia)
TMO: Peter Marshall (Australia)