Cape Town - A new-look Melbourne Rebels stormed past the Brumbies in their opening Super Rugby encounter in Canberra on Friday.
The Rebels, bolstered by the
signing of enigmatic Wallabies outcast Quade Cooper to partner Will
Genia at halfback, posted five tries in their 34-27 win.
Brumbies' defeat was made even more painful by superstar David Pocock
failing a head injury assessment in the opening five minutes after
taking a heavy knock.
He was forced from the field, continuing a
terrible run of injuries that has seen his off-season interrupted by
neck and calf issues.
The Brumbies took a 22-19 lead into half-time after an entertaining first 40 minutes in which both sides scored three tries.
Fainga'a flopped over the line after a powerful Brumbies driving maul
to get the first try of the Australian season, before Tom English put
the Rebels on the scoreboard three minutes later when he touched down
after being lifted in a tackle.
Both teams were spreading the ball
wide, and the Rebels' Jack Maddocks scooped up a terrible kick from
Irae Simone inside his 22 to score an easy try to put the visitors in
Matt Phillip got the Rebels' third of the half with Rory
Arnold and Alan Ala'alatoa also touching down to keep the Brumbies in
the topsy-turvy match.
It was a tighter second-half with the home
team playing into a strong breeze, and the Rebels took advantage with
Anaru Rangi shrugging off three defenders to score after being set up by
a barnstorming run from Maddocks.
And the match was sealed when Maddocks scored his second try of the night, latching onto a Billy Meakes kick into the corner.
proud of the boys, we worked really hard for that," said Rebels skipper
Dane Haylett-Petty, who singled out Cooper - who booted three
conversions and a penalty - for praise.
"He has always had a magical quality, but I think what he really brought today was composure and experience."
Next weekend, the Brumbies host the Chiefs in Canberra (February 23), while the Rebels have a bye.
Tries: Folau Fainga'a, Rory Arnold, Allan Alaalatoa, Sam Carter
Conversions: Christian Lealiifano (2)
Tries: Tom English, Jack Maddocks (2), Matt Philip, Anaru Rangi
Conversions: Quade Cooper (3)
15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Toni Pulu, 10 Christian Lealiifano (captain), 9 Joe Powell, 8 Lachlan McCaffrey, 7 David Pocock, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper
Substitutes: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Peter Samu, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Wharenui Hawera, 23 Andy Muirhead
15 Dane Haylett-Petty (captain), 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Tom English, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Tetra Faulkner
Substitutes: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Esi Ha’angana, 20 Brad Wilkin, 21 Rob Leota, 22 Michael Ruru, 23 Semisi Tupou