Rebels outplay Waratahs for first Super AU win
SUPER RUGBY AU REPORT: The Melbourne Rebels have revived their finals hopes with a historic 29-10 Super Rugby AU win over the Waratahs in Sydney.
In a scrappy affair, punctuated by 26 penalties and endless knock-ons, the Rebels claimed their first victory of the new competition thanks largely to the class and boot of flyhalf Matt Toomua.
Toomua slotted five penalty goals and two conversions for a 19-point haul as the Rebels, despite being homeless due to Victoria’s coronavirus outbreak, completed their first season double over the Waratahs.
Dave Wessels’ men also trumped the Tahs 24-10 before the suspension of Super Rugby proper in March. Friday’s triumph marks the first time in the franchise’s 10-year existence they have toppled their NSW rivals twice in a season.
But the milestone victory at the SCG was anything but pretty.
The Rebels, who lost captain Dane Haylett-Petty to a first-half knee injury, butchered a series of try-scoring opportunities before 2019 John Eales Medallist Marika Koroibete finally sealed the win four minutes from full-time.
With the exception of Alex Newsome’s seventh-minute try, a 25-metre intercept effort off an errant Reece Hodge pass, the Waratahs never looked like scoring.
Four Toomua penalties kept the visitors in the first half before the Rebels extended their lead to a handy nine points in the shadows of half-time.
With the Waratahs down to 14 men after Wallabies captain Michael Hooper was yellow-carded for a second offside offence, Rebels scrumhalf Ryan Louwrens crashed over from the scrum base and Toomua converted to make it 19-10 at the break.
It wasn’t until half an hour into the second stanza that the next points came and, typically, they came again from Toomua as the Waratahs’ ill-discipline continued to cost them.
All up, they conceded 17 penalties.
One of the few positives for the Waratahs was the long-awaited return of scrumhalf Jake Gordon.
In his first game back since pre-COVID-19, Gordon was introduced early in the second half and made a successful return from a nagging hamstring injury.
But there was little else for coach Rob Penney to enthuse about as the Tahs took a backward step after last week’s spirited showing against the Brumbies.
Waratahs skipper Rob Simmons lasted only 47 minutes before being replaced due to a leg injury, while even Hooper had an uncharacteristic off night.
Fellow Wallabies forward Jed Holloway lasted a minute after being thrown into the fray late before also being sin-binned for deliberate offside.
Man of the match: The award goes to Melbourne Rebels flyhalf Matt Toomua, who was a constant threat on attack. He also kept the scoreboard ticking over by converting penalties into three points.
Tries: Louwrens, Koroibete
Cons: Toomua 2
Pens: Toomua 5
Yellow card: Michael Hooper (Waratahs, 31 – repeated infringements); Jed Holloway (Waratahs, 70 – repeated infringements)
Waratahs: 15 Jack Maddocks, 14 James Ramm, 13 Joey Walton, 12 Karmichael Hunt, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Will Harrison, 9 Mitch Short, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Rob Simmons (captain), 4 Ned Hanigan, 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 Tom Horton, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Joe Cotton, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Chris Talakai, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Jed Holloway, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 23 Ben Donaldson.
Rebels: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty (captain), 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Ryan Louwrens, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Josh Kemeny, 5 Trevor Hosea, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Pone Fa’amausili, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Cameron Orr.
Replacements: 16 Efitusi Ma’afu, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Michael Stolberg, 20 Esei Haangana, 21 Rob Leota, 22 Frank Lomani, 23 Andrew Deegan.
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant referees: Amy Perrett & Reuben Keane
TMO: Ian Smith