Rebels fight back to sink Brumbies
Beautiful tries from first time scorers Tom Cusack, Faalelei Sione and Rob Valetini will be lost in memory after the Rebels staged a stunning comeback finished off by Reece Hodge's gut wrenching penalty goal with a minute to play.
The Rebels drew first blood through Tom English not long into the tie. After the Brumbies managed to push the Rebels out of their red-zone, English was allowed to waltz down the left touchline and he walked over unopposed for the opening score.
After a few missed kicks, the Brumbies started to find their feet and moved back into the Rebels red-zone. After a large scrum right on the line, the ball was passed wide and Tom Cusack jumped over the line for an equalizing try. Wharenui Hawera successfully converted to give the home team the lead.
A high tackle on Scott Sio resulted in a yellow card being awarded to Amanaki Mafi and Faalelei Sione coming on for the injured front rower. The Brumbies capitalised on the opportunity, piled on the pressure and watched Sione make a statement by scoring the teams second try, which was once again converted by Hawera, doubling the Brumbies lead.
The Rebels did their best to push back and took the chance at a penalty only to watch it go wide again. The Brumbies returned the pressure by charging down the field maintaining possession and a kick across field saw three offloads resulting Christian Lealiifano being tackled just before the line. Two passes later, returning from injury, Rob Valetini pounced through two defenders to score number three, Hawera’s magic boot sparked and gave the kicker a hat-trick.
Once again, the Rebels charged, and once again they were denied; first in a scrum, then on the line and once again as they tried down the wing with Tom Banks chasing down the attacker. Despite the Brumbies best efforts however, they weren’t able to hold off a fourth attack and Tom English scored his second try of the night, with Reece Hodge having no more luck than Debreczeni with his conversion. The half-time score was left at 21-10 in the Brumbies favour.
The Brumbies came out ablaze, pushing the tryline within two minutes. An unfortunate pass turned the ball into the Rebels hands in the end-zone, only for the Brumbies to force it into touch behind the goals. The Brumbies attempted numerous scrums under the posts only to have the ball turned over and kicked away.
After a few more attempts at the Rebels line, a penalty in the scrum gave Hawera a chance to push the Brumbies ahead even more. His magic boot connected, and the Brumbies advanced to a 14-point lead. Two minutes later and Hawera was lining up another shot after the Rebels fumbled a return ball. His luck wasn't to last however, and the game got back underway.
The Rebels scored a turnover and mounted a counterattack that caught the Brumbies off guard and fullback, Jack Maddocks, landed their third try with Hodge finding his touch and converting the try. Another few minutes and another Rebels try from Semisi Tupou with conversion to-boot. The score was equalled 24-24 with fifteen minutes left in the game.
Both teams upped the voltage, first it was in the Brumbies half, then the Rebels red-zone, back to halfway, then Muirhead showed off his soccer skills, kicking the ball all the way to the Rebels 10-meter line only to be tackled and a knock on from McCaffrey meant a turnover.
Captain Lealiifano gets a chance to show off his kicking skills after the Rebels are penalised for double movement. Despite his focus, the kick went wide, and the Rebels decided to push back. They were stopped with 10 meters left after some confusion over a penalty. The Rebels went back on the offensive with an attempt at a penalty and Hodge pushes the rebels ahead with two minutes to go.
The Brumbies tried their best to hold onto the ball after the full-time whistle, but the pressure proved too much with a fumbled ball allowing the Rebels to kick the ball into touch. The cold night at GIO Stadium wrapped up with the Rebels victorious 27-24.
Tries: Valentini, Sione, Cusack
Cons: Hawera 3
Tries: English 2. Tupou, Maddocks
Cons: Hodge 2
Yellow Card: Amanaki Mafi (Rebels, 21- professional foul)
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Andy Muirhead, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Lachlan Mccaffrey, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga'a, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Faalelei Sione, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Lolo Fakaosilea, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Jordan Jackson-Hope, 23 Lausii Taliauli.
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Jack Maddocks, 14 Semisi Tupou, 13 Tom English, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga'a, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Adam Coleman (captain), 4 Geoff Parling, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Fereti Sa'aga,
Replacements: 16 Nathan Charles, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Sam Jeffries, 21 Lopeti Timani, 22 Harrison Goddard, 23 Billy Meakes.
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant referees: Will Houston (Australia), Jordan Way (Australia)
TMO: Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)