Cape Town - The Rebels picked up their first Super Rugby victory over
the Chiefs in their history on Saturday as they held on to win 16-15 in
It wasn't pretty but the hosts will celebrate this win long
into the night as they have now beaten all of New Zealand's franchises since
The Chiefs meanwhile go into their bye week five points off
their conference pace-setters the Hurricanes, who overcame the Crusaders
The Rebels came out on top in the first-half, going in 16-3
up with a man advantage after Chiefs wing James Lowe was yellow carded for
using his knee to release himself from a ruck. Had that offence been let go, it
could well have been the New Zealanders leading at the turnaround.
As it was, the Melbourne outfit began strongly on their home
patch and landed a penalty after five minutes as fly-half Jack Debreczeni was
on-target from distance after the Chiefs were offside. It was an ideal start
for the hosts.
Captain and No 8 Scott Higginbotham showed his intent before
the end of the first quarter as three kickable penalties were snubbed.
Fortunately for Higginbotham that was rewarded in the seventeenth minute as
sustained pressure led to him diving over on the left for 8-0.
The Chiefs then finally enjoyed some ball and landed three
points thanks to a dominant scrum, stand-in flyhalf Andrew Horrell kicking the
However, they would not score again in the half as Lowe's
yellow card was compounded by the fact it also meant centre Charlie Ngatai's
try from a break-out was chalked off. It could well have been 8-10 but instead
Debreczeni kicked the resulting penalty to push his men 11-3 up.
Things got even better for the Rebels before the break too
as scrum-half Nic Stirzaker saw a gap at the tail of a line-out before racing
in for 16-3 at the turnaround.
It was a much-improved early spell to the second-half from
the Chiefs as their back-three and Sonny Bill Williams looked to get their
hands on the ball. Fortunately for the Rebels, however, their defence was
standing firm amid a spell of pressure in their 22 in the third quarter.
It was only a matter of time before the Chiefs struck though
and it came from a Rebels mistake as winger Sefanaia Naivalu fumbled a grubber
kick through on his own five-metre and chasing centre Ngatai gobbled up the
loose ball to score. Replacement Damian McKenzie made it 16-10.
The gap could have been extended past the one-score margin
for the Rebels had Bryce Hegarty landed a penalty for Chiefs openside Sam Cane
going off his feet, but he was unsuccessful and the visitors were still very
much in touch as the game entered its final eighteen minutes.
Chiefs No 8 Michael Leitch then scored the pivotal, possible
lead-taking try, when he reached out from a close-range carry to give McKenzie
a pressure kick fifteen metres in from touch. He hit the near post so the
Rebels were still 16-15 to the good.
That set up a grandstand finish in Melbourne and credit to
the Rebels, who didn't go into their shell and pushed hard to put the game
beyond their visitors with ball in hand. In fact they turned down a shot on 73
minutes and went close via wing Dom Shipperley but were unsuccessful.
It didn't matter for the Rebels, as didn't Debreczeni's late
missed penalty, as the Australian side held on to claim a memorable home
Tries: Scott Higginbotham, Nic Stirzaker
Penalties: Jack Debreczeni (2)
Tries: Charlie Ngatai, Michael Leitch
Conversion: Damian McKenzie
Penalty: Andrew Horrell
15 Mike Harris, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Sefanaia Naivalu, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham (captain), 7 Jordy Reid, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith
Substitutes: 16 Tom Sexton, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Tim Metcher, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Colby Fainga’a, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Tom English, 23 Bryce Hegarty
15 Tom Marshall, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Charlie Ngatai, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 James Lowe, 10 Andrew Horrell, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Michael Leitch, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam (captain), 5 Michael Fitzgerald, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hika Elliot 1 Pauliasi Manu
Substitutes: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Siate Tokolahi, 18 Jamie Mackintosh, 19 Michael Allardice, 20 Johan Bardoul, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Bryce Heem