The Brumbies rolled in to Melbourne after knocking over the Reds on the strength of an impressive defensive display. The Rebels were full of confidence after beating the Force and getting their season off to a strong start.
The big question: would strong defence overcome a team with two flashy Wallabies in the backline?
The Brumbies have secured their second win of the season with a four-try win victory over the Rebels in Melbourne.
The result for the home team comes at a cost with injury concerns hanging over two of their star players, James O’Connor and Kurtley Beale.
The Rebels showed their hand early, running the ball against the Brumbies’ defence that did so well last week. They looked the better team in the opening exchanges. They declined shots at goal from early penalties but their lineout was letting them down. An opportunist’s try to Brumbies fullback Jesse Mogg got the visitors on the board early.
The Rebels then scored via a streamlined James O’Connor and that was followed up by a brilliant piece of work from O’Connor, getting a pass away to Scott Higginbotham who ran away and scored under the posts.
The Rebels enjoyed the better of the play as the Brumbies’ discipline, particularly from the forwards, started to let them down and put them under more pressure. They blew two chances to add to their score with an error from a lineout and then a maul infringement when David Pocock came unbound at the back inside the Rebels’ 22.
Clyde Rathbone then completed his fairytale return to provincial rugby, finishing a neat backline move to cross on the left side. They try was awarded courtesy of the TMO.
With time almost up in the half, the Brumbies had a great chance to score again but poor handling let the half time score at 13-12 to the home side.
Whatever Jake White said at halftime worked wonders as the forwards lifted their intensity and lowered the error rate.
The Rebels suffered badly with James O’Connor leaving the field with injury. That loss was followed by a procession of experienced players, including Kurtley Beale and Gareth Delve, as it started to go downhill for the home team.
The momentum started to go in the Brumbies’ favour. They scored off a speculator to Ben Mowen after he swooped on a ball and ran 40 metres to the tryline.
The Rebels did well to keep out the Brumbies again after Mowen knocked on at the back of a scrum after Jarrod Saffy entered the sin bin for a cynical infringement right in front of the sticks. The Rebels didn’t look close to scoring after their injury problems and the Brumbies would be satisfied with keeping the opposition scoreless in the second half.
And with time ticking down, the Brumbies secured their fourth try and a bonus point. They come away with a 30-13 win and will have next week off, while the Rebels will need to regroup before taking on the Waratahs.
The Game Changer
Early in the second half James O’Connor copped a head knock tackling a rampaging Clyde Rathbone. He went off for the medical check and didn’t return. At the same time Kurtley Beale was struggling with injury.
Also, the benching of Gareth Delve raised eyebrows considering the mounting injury toll and lack of leadership.
The G&GR MOTM
Jesse Mogg – scored a great try with pace and almost bagged another.
James O’Connor and Kurtley Beale play the double playmaker role perfectly and kept their team in the match for a while with some incisive runs, particularly out wide in trying to get around the Brumbies’ defence.
Brumbies forwards Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore and David Pocock got through plenty of work and led the Brumbies well.
Brumbies 30 – Mogg, Rathbone, Mowen, Coleman tries; Lealiifano 2 con, 2 pen def
Rebels 13 – Higginbotham try; O’Connor con, 2 pen
68 min Jarrod Saffy yellow card