VIDEO: Rebels race clear in Aussie conference
In a match that was another poor advertisement of the state of Australian rugby, the Rebels outscored the Brumbies by five tries to two – for a 33-10 win – in a scrappy game.
The Rebels – who raided the relegated Western Force's ranks, coaching staff and all, in the off-season – are clearly the team to beat in the Australian Conference.
The result also puts the Brumbies, the pre-season pick by many pundits to claim the Australian Conference crown once more, 11 points behind the Melbourne-based franchise on the Australian ladder.
There are also serious injury concerns for the Brumbies – with co-captain Sam Carter going off early after failing a concussion test and Josh Mann-Rea suffering a hamstring injury on the stroke of half-time.
The Brumbies came flying out of the gates early with added purpose not sighted last week, forcing five penalties in the opening 10 minutes and crossing through Chance Peni after their third straight dominant scrum.
But the Rebels readjusted remained composed.
They finally got their hands on some consistent ball after 20 minutes of defending with a real sense of vigour and for the rest of the first term, Will Genia steered the ship with typical command.
Genia's flat passing from the breakdown put Melbourne over the gainline 90 percent of their first half carries and their scrum started to stiffen up, providing a platform for Amanaki Mafi to crash into the goal post and score his side's first with 28 on the clock.
The lead up play to Reece Hodge's try was a work of art, masterfully conducted by Genia.
The ball moved from sideline to sideline, forwards running pinpoint lines and Genia hitting them on the chest with bullets from the base of the ruck.
That had the Brumbies back pedaling all the way from 40 out to their try line, where Genia threw another brilliant pass across the face of the defensive line to put Hodge over five minutes after Mafi crossed to open up a 14-5 half-time lead.
The Brumbies made some key changes minutes into the second half – with Christian Lealiifano and Tom Banks pulled in favour of Wharenui Hawera and Andy Muirhead.
The result was a try to Henry Speight, which put the visitors within striking distance with 25 to play.
A Les Makin yellow card followed for repeated maul collapses as the Rebels again applied the heat and with 18 to play, the ball squirted out the back of a ruck and Genia found Hodge for his second.
The ball squirted out the back of another ruck with 10 to play and Richard Hardwick set off for the line from 60 out, dishing to Michael Ruru, who beat the cover defence to the corner to put the icing on the cake.
Man of the Match: Will Genia produced another scrumhalf masterclass, but it was the powerful running and brutal hits on defence of Rebels No.8 Amanaki Mafi that impressed us most.
For the Rebels:
Tries: Mafi, Hodge 2, Maddocks, Ruru
Cons: Hodge 4
For the Brumbies:
Tries: Peni, Speight
Yellow cards: Jordan Uelese (Rebels, 8 – repeated infringements, collapsing the maul), Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin (Brumbies, 62 – repeated infringements, collapsing the maul)
Rebels: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Tom English (captain), 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Sefa Naivalu, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Will Genia, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Angus Cottrell, 6 Lopeti Timani, 5 Ross Haylett-Petty, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Tetera Faulkner
Replacements: 16 Anaru Rangi, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Colby Fainga'a, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Michael Ruru, 22 Billy Meakes, 23 Marika Koroibete
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Chance Peni, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Lolo Fakaosilea, 6 Lachlan McCaffrey, 5 Sam Carter (captain), 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Josh Mann-Rea, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Folau Fainga'a, 17 Faalelei Sione, 18 Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, 19 Richie Arnold, 20 Tom Cusack, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Wharenui Hawera, 23 Andy Muirhead
Referee: William Houston (Australia)
Assistant referees: Graham Cooper (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: Ian Smith (Australia)