Cape Town - The Melbourne Rebels claimed a crucial come-from-behind
27-24 victory over the Brumbies at GIO Stadium in Canberra on Saturday evening.
The Brumbies raced in to a 21-5 lead through three
first-half tries all scored by first-time Super Rugby try-scorers in Thomas
Cusack, Faalelei Sione and Rob Valetini.
However, the Rebels hit back through Jack Maddocks, Semisi
Tupou and a Tom English brace to end a five-match losing streak and move to
within one point of Australian Conference log leaders Waratahs.
Meanwhile, the Brumbies will be kicking themselves as they
missed out on an opportunity to leapfrog the Reds and move to within two points
of their opposition as they lost their fourth match in succession.
The Rebels dominated the early possession and territory
stakes and were rewarded with the game’s first try. After Marika Koroibete had
spilled the ball in midfield, Brumbies full-back Tom Banks put the ball in
behind the Rebels defence with Henry Speight bearing down on Angus Cottrell.
However, Cottrell did exceptionally well to beat Speight and
two further defenders with his run down the left touchline, before the flank played the perfect pass as he was falling to the ground which had English
running on to the ball at pace and clinically finishing in the left-hand
corner. Rebels flyhalf Jack Debreczeni failed to convert.
The Brumbies hit back straight away through Cusack, who
burst over after the home side showed good patience and found extra numbers out
on the left. Flyhalf Wharenui Hawera added the extras for a 7-5 lead.
Amanaki Mafi was sent to the sin-bin in the 22nd minute when
he caught Brumbies prop Scott Sio with a high hit and the Rebels would pay for
The Brumbies kicked for the corner and from the lineout, Cusack went
short side and turned creator, offloading for Sione who, it must be said, ran
an excellent support line before crashing over.
The Brumbies were making the most of their numerical
advantage when Cusack, who was having a brilliant game, plucked a Hawera
cross-kick expertly out the air. After a couple of phases, Valetini powered
Hawera’s conversion took the Brumbies’ lead out to 21-5 a minute before
Mafi returned from his stint in the naughty chair, which cost his side 14
With Scott Sio having gone off, the Rebels were beginning to
attack the Brumbies’ loosehead side and won the scrum penalty after replacement
prop Ben Alexander was penalised for going in on the angle.
The Rebels chose the scrum and profited from their decision
as Tom English grabbed his brace after good work by Koroibete to set him up
with the offload after the ball was spun quickly out wide to the wing from the
Unfortunately, Rebels centre Reece Hodge missed his conversion
attempt, meaning with two unconverted tries, the Rebels went in to the break
trailing at 21-10.
The Brumbies camped themselves inside the Rebels’ 22 for 15
pressure-filled minutes after half-time but could only come away with a sole
Hawera penalty for their efforts.
But the home side looked to be tiring when quick hands from
the Rebels allowed Hodge to make his way up to the Brumbies’ 22.
As the ball
was recycled, Maddocks burst through a hole to run 30 metres to the line and
produce a good finish as the Rebels hit back.
Debreczeni’s conversion cut the
deficit in half to 24-17.
Soon after, the scores were level when Rebels scrum-half
Michael Ruru showed good awareness to find Tupou on the blindside after the
Rebels had set up the well-worked driving maul which got them close to the
Tupou had the easiest of run-ins to notch a try on his Super Rugby
starting debut with 15 minutes to go.
With three minutes left on the clock, the Rebels were handed
a gift when Brumbies’ lock Sam Carter was penalised for a high hit.
slotted the all-important pressure penalty to seal a superb comeback.
Tries: Cusack, Sione, Valetini
Conversions: Hawera 3
Tries: English 2, Maddocks, Tupou
Conversions: Hodge 2
Yellow Card: Mafi
15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano (co-captain), 11 Andrew Muirhead, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Rob Valentini, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Lachlan McCaffrey, 5 Sam Carter (co-captain), 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio
Substitutes: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Faalelei Stone, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Lolo Fakaosilea, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Jordan Jackson-Hope, 23 Lausii Taliauli
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
Substitutes: 16 Nathan Charles, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Sam Jeffries, 21 Lopeti Timani, 22 Harrison Goddard, 23 Billy Meakes