Brumbies start Super Rugby AU with a close win over the Rebels - Green and Gold Rugby
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Brumbies start Super Rugby AU with a close win over the Rebels

Brumbies start Super Rugby AU with a close win over the Rebels

The Brumbies are off to a winning start in Super Rugby AU with a tense 31-23 win over the Melbourne Rebels in front of a sell-out crowd in Canberra.

The Brumbies looked like they would run away with the game with a 24-6 lead early in the second half before the Rebels mounted a late comeback to make it 24-23 late in the game but a late converted Will Miller try sealed the 8-point win.

The Brumbies had been touted as favourites for the tournament but didn’t have it all their own way in the 5 tries to 2 bonus point win. Their scrum came under huge pressure with multiple penalties going against them to allow the Rebels back into the game.

The Rebels Wallaby laden backline took well into the second half to get some ball and looked good when they did so and almost pulled of a miraculous win but came up short in the end.

The Match

The Brumbies showed no signs of early rust with a try in just the 3rd minute after back-to-back penalties allowed them to set up in the Rebels 22. A well worked lineout move saw Folau Fainga’a with a brilliant inside pass to Andy Muirhead, sporting an impressive moustache, and he sliced through the gap to score.

The Rebels didn’t take long to get on the board with a penalty goal to Matt Toomua in his 100th Super Rugby match after it was their turn to receive back-to-back penalties from Angus Gardner.

The Brumbies scrum was coming under tight scrutiny from Gardner and were on the receiving end of multiple penalties for infringing and put themselves under pressure with the possibility of a whistle replacement required at half time after 11 in the opening 25 minutes.

On the back of those penalties, Toomua landed his second penalty to reduce the margin to 1 but the Brumbies hit back with their second try just 3 minutes later. After taking matters into their own hands with another rolling maul, it was Joe Powell who got the ball down on the line to score.

With half time looming, the Brumbies rolled up their sleeves and kept it tight after another penalty got them into the Rebels 22. Some great work from Powell and Irae Simone had the Rebels on the backfoot and Fainga’a hit the ball on a nice angle from close range for a non-rolling maul try and the Brumbies 3rd try of the night. Lolesio’s conversion gave the Brumbies a handy lead of 19-6 at the break.

Embed from Getty Images

The Rebels tactic of high balls continued early in the second half after some success in the first-half but the Brumbies picked it off easily with Mack Hansen slowly gaining confidence after a shaky start.

Noah Lolesio was attacking the line well and found a gap in the Rebels defensive line and with Tom Wright in support and a two on one, Lolesio hit Wright to outrun the defence for the Brumbies 4th try of the night.

It might have taken about 55 minutes for the Rebels to finally string together some good passages of play, but with Koroibete shaking off the ice and getting involved in numerous phases to get his side on the front foot. They went close to scoring but were held up over the line to give the Brumbies a goal line drop put under the new law variations.

But another penalty to the Rebels gave them a chance to launch an attack and gave the Brumbies a dose of their own medicine with a rolling maul try of their own to Jordan Uelese and give his side a sniff with an 11-point deficit with 20 minutes remaining.

With all the momentum now with the Rebels and their Wallaby laden backline getting their hands on the ball more and making inroads on the Brumbies defence. With the Brumbies on the backfoot, the Rebels had the overlap and Dane Haylett-Petty scored to reduce the margin further to make a game of it at 24-20 after Toomua’s conversion.

Another Toomua penalty following a scrum infringement from the Brumbies made it a 1-point game with 10 minutes to go with penalty count mounting against the Brumbies.

The Brumbies finally got into Rebels 22 for about the first time since Wright’s try early in the second half but their execution let them down with another penalty with the line beckoning.

But a poor Rebels throw saw the Brumbies get a scrum that earnt them a penalty. With the lessons of the Highlanders game, Lolesio kicked to the line and from the resulting lineout, Will Miller came up with an important try and Lolesio’s conversion put the game to bed at 31-23.

The Game Changer

The Rebels looked out of it at 24-6 early in the second half but a raft of changes and back-to-back tries got them back in the game, but a late converted Will Miller try sealed the Brumbies win.


Noah Lolesio – Is starting to look better and gaining confidence as the year has gone on. Hopefully Dave Rennie has him in the mix at Wallabies level whenever Tests come back.

Wallaby Watch

The Brumbies Wallabies front row contingent of James Slipper, Folau Fainga’a and Allan Alaalatoa had a rough night at the office with multiple penalties against them at scrum time but looked better in open play.

For the Rebels, Marika Koroibete had a quiet first half but looked better in the second half when he finally got his hands on the ball and that seemed to lift his team including Matt Toomua and Dane Haylett-Petty.

The Details

Score & Scorers

Tries: Muirhead, Powell, Fainga’a, Wright, Miller
Conversions: Lolesio 3
Tries: Uelese, Haylett-Petty
Conversions: Toomua 2
Penalties: Toomua 3



  • idiot savant

    loving the immediacy of after game posts on GAGR. Great job Steve.

    I was a bit flummoxed by the early scrum penalties. They seemed to all be for early engagement. It didnt look like it would lead to pushover penalties so I dont know why Gardiner didnt just let them go.

    After 2 games Im not sure if I like the effect of all of the new rules. They seem to privilege negative play – rush defence and jackalling – rather than offensive play. It has kept the two games close as the officials look for infringements more.

    The influence of the 10 seems diminished under these rules. It seems harder to control play. I can see them all standing deeper as none of them seemed to have much time. I suspect the role of half back will become even more important.

    I feel for the coaches. They had trained for the old Super rules, then after the hiatus had to start again, and now find that the new rules really do change the game so will have to find new strategies. As if Covid 19 wasn’t hard enough.

    • I think it takes time for everyone to adapt. The Highlanders v Crusaders game looked like the first time everyone felt confident to play and loose forwards (in particular) felt confident in what their role was under the new laws. There were still some penalties that might not have been given under the old interpretation, but not many.

      It’s possible we’d have seen more of this last week, but the weather in NZ played a big role in changing the way the games were played.

      So I’m hoping we’ll see the same here as the players and coaches settle down to new interpretations.

      I’m a bit less impressed by “everything is a drop out from under the goal post” as a law variation. I really don’t mind it for held up. Especially when the referees seem to be moving to an assumption of “the try is scored” unless it’s pretty clearly not and they want to check they haven’t got that wrong. I don’t mind rewarding defensive effort when it’s hard to do like that.

      Carried back I think the 5m scrum attack is more benefit to the attacking side (in theory anyway) and I’d prefer that. Rugby has a lot of laws that effectively punish poor technique, a dropout-22 for a kick that is touched dead in goal seems like a fair one too.

      On a different note, I think we’re seeing at least one reason why pre-seasons are so long. Overall lineouts are a bit of a mess still, although they were a bit better here. I get there a lot of moving parts to get in harmony, decades ago I used to be one of those moving parts, although nowhere near this level, but the lineout completion stats are going to look terrible for everyone.

      • Brumby Runner

        NZ aren’t adopting the selection of law variations in place here. Maybe they are still adapting to a different set of referee interpretations at the breakdown and scrum time, but not to the various changes relating to 50/22 or 22/50 kicks, line dropouts etc.

        • Yup, but it still took them time to adjust to a smaller set of changes. I think it will take for everyone to adjust to these too is all I was saying

  • Pedro

    Winning by eight? Who could’ve predicted that?

    Well played bj

  • Rugby Truth

    Angus Gardiner’s scrum interpretations was a mystery!

    • Brumby Runner

      As always. Many comments over the years that he doesn’t show a lot of understanding of what goes on in the scrums.

  • dru

    The set piece needs some big improvements from both teams. Everyone seems to be putting Lolesio ahead of Toomua – I’m not so sure. It depends on what the intentions are by Rennie and how he wants to use the 10. Lolesio was fantastic in the sniping through a rush D rather than pushing back deeper – which is great. He’d probably be my pick if looking for a “traditional” 10, but I’m not certain that the role, especially at international level, is not getting adapted and that Toomua might not be a better fit.

    In time I expect Harrison to keep improving as well.

    On another note, what did people think about the general level of play from the locks around the field. It seemed to me that what is usually a powerhouse did not come across like that in this game.

    • Brumby Runner

      Mat Philip put body and soul on the line with his ball carrying, but was mostly stopped in his tracks by Rob Valetini who I think finished the game in the second row as well.

      Darcy Swain was ruler in the air. He is also non-stop and makes his tackles count.

      I thought both had quite strong games and I hope that Philip stays here nesxt year. A Wallaby spot is calling.

      • Anonymous bloke

        Ah right. I was trying to work out post-game who was in the second row for that final scrum as McCaffrey was at 8.

      • RedAnt

        I think one of the commentators said Philip was heading to France next year. Would certainly be a loss, although a couple of years in France/Europe might add some polish.

      • Ian Rodger

        Philip has unfortunatley sigend with Pau in France for next season.

  • Damo

    I’ve just got 2 observations to make from the weekend and the continuation of this most bizarre season.
    Firstly, pre the break, the Reds had developed very effective attacking -and try scoring- momentum around a narrow channel offloading game which put weapons like Wilson into space. I can’t remember this happening once on Friday night.
    Second, why did it take Reece Hodge 60 minutes to wake up and take some attacking responsibility last night. He is now a senior wallaby. Playing in the mid field. Not good enough.

    • Wondering where was Pete Samu last night. Great player usually but last night he was the Invisible Man.

      • Brumby Runner

        Actually was one of the three top tacklers in the game. Not really invisible, just not noticed by some.

      • Huw Tindall

        Quiet in that we didn’t see him making attacking runs but good D. Gonna be a cracking competition again for backrow spots with the Reds looking excellent and now even Swinton having his best game for the Tahs. Would like to see 6/7/8 combos of say Wright/Hooper/Naisarani up against Swinton/Wright/Wilson.

  • Moz

    Two Aussie teams won on the weekend. I’m happy!

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