Melbourne - Wing Tom English scored his first two tries in Super Rugby as the Rebels upset the Waratahs 24-22 in a closely contested all-Australian Super Rugby clash at AAMI Park on Friday.
English touched down in the corner for tries in the ninth and 75th minutes as the Rebels, led by another immense display by their skipper and No 8 Scott Higginbotham, beat the Waratahs for the first time.
While Australia coach Robbie Deans will be delighted by another powerful Higginbotham performance he will have concerns over Waratahs centre Berrick Barnes, who hobbled off in the 52nd minute after slotting his fourth penalty of the game.COMMENTARY: Rebels v Waratahs
Both men were named this week in his 25-man squad to face the British and Irish Lions next month, as was Waratahs fullback Israel Folau, who was starved of possession for long periods but scored the visitors’ only try with a canny interception in the first half.
A depleted Rebels side meant fullback Jason Woodward took on the kicking duties and he and Barnes traded early penalties before English broke his Super Rugby duck by stretching for the corner for the game's opening try.
Woodward converted from the touchline and added a penalty but Barnes kept the men from Sydney in touch with two penalties before Folau struck four minutes before half-time.
The Rebels snaffled possession on their own line but as they attempted to throw the ball wide to counter, Folau read the situation brilliantly to intercept and touch down.
Barnes slotted the conversion to make it four kicks from four to send the ‘Tahs into the half-time break 16-13 ahead.
The versatile back notched another after the break before departing and Woodward slotted two more to tie the scores in a game increasingly littered with mistakes.
Replacement scrumhalf Brendan McKibbin took on the Waratahs kicking duties and his first penalty put the visitors ahead 22-19 with 12 minutes left and they poured forward looking for a second try to kill of the game.
But the Rebels manfully hung on and a break out by Woodward set up English to finish in the corner a couple of phases later.
McKibbon sliced a penalty to win it with a minute left which all but ended the Waratahs’ hopes of topping the Australian Conference as the Rebels celebrated their fourth win of the campaign. Scorers:Rebels:
Tries: Tom English (2)
Conversion: Jason Woodward
Penalties: Woodward (4)Waratahs:
Try: Israel Folau
Conversion: Berrick Barnes
Penalties: Barnes (4), Brendan McKibbin
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
Substitutes: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Paul Alo-Emile, 18 Cadeyrn Neville, 19 Gareth Delve, 20 Nic Stirzaker, 21 James Hilgendorf, 22 Kimami SitautiWaratahs:
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 (captain), 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 John Ulugia, 1 Benn Robinson
Substitutes: 16 Luke Holmes, 17 Paddy Ryan, 18 Will Skelton, 19 Mitchell Chapman, 20 Brendan McKibbin, 21 Rob Horne, 22 Tom Kingston