Crusaders in a canter over hapless Rebels - Green and Gold Rugby
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Crusaders in a canter over hapless Rebels

Crusaders in a canter over hapless Rebels

“A highly entertaining game of rugby between two quality teams that went right to the final whistle…” That’s the sort of introduction I has hoping to write about tonight’s game; the reality was somewhat different.

The Rebels hung in valiantly until half time, heading into the sheds just three points in arrears. After half time they were completely dominated by a far superior and better coached Crusaders outfit.

First Half

After three minutes it was three – nil to the Rebels, courtesy of a Jack Debreczeni penalty goal.

It took until just the seven minute mark for Seta Tamanivalu to cross the chalk and put the visitors in front after he received a long cutout pass from Ritchie Mo’unga. Mo’unga missed the conversion attempt from the sideline.

A few minutes later, Reece Hodge awkwardly thrust out a hand to knock down a pass. Referee, Nick Briant had no hesitation in pulling the yellow card from his pocket and rightfully sent Hodge to the sin bin.

Melbourne lad, Pete Samu burst through some suspect defence to get the Crusaders close to the Melbourne line. Owen Franks made a quick cameo at scrum-half throwing a beautiful pass to hooker Andrew Makalio who crashed over the top of Marika Koroibete to score in the corner. Mo’unga again missed the conversion but the score was out to 10-3. It was starting to look like the Crusaders might run away with the game considering the amount of attacking pressure they were applying to the Rebels defences.

However, the Crusaders would have to play out the balance of the second half a man down as first Matt Todd and then David Havili felt the wrath of the cheese, both for professional fouls.

The Rebels earned a piece of luck after the Crusaders gained a turnover, scrum-half Mitchell Drummond spilled the ball into the path of Reece Hodge. Hodge toed the ball through and regathered with a clear run to the line. Debreczeni made no mistake with the conversion and the scores were level at ten points each.

A real blow to the home team and potentially the Wallabies came at the 38 minute mark of the half when Will Genia limped off with what could be a medial ligament tear. A scan will be required but the early diagnosis does not look good and will likely see Genia out of the June test series.

The half ended with Mo’unga successfuly slotting a penalty to put the visitors ahead 13-10.

In fairness and despite being a man up for nearly twenty minutes, the Rebels were probably lucky to have been only three points down. The Crusaders looked obviously stronger, they had the bulk of possession and territory but had been unable to finish off a lot of their good work.

Second Half

A happy hooker, Andrew Makalio bags his second try

With Genia off the field the Rebels seemed to lose all direction and organisation. The grit and character they had shown in the first half went missing and, not for the first time this year, were completely ineffective in the second half as the 2017 champions piled on the points.

In the 44th minute a Ryan Crotty cross field kick was taken by Tamanivalu over the top of Jack Maddocks, “a speccy” to use the AFL parlance. Tamanivalu hit the ground running and fed an inside pass to a smiling Makalio who cruised in near the posts for his second try of the evening. Mo’unga had no trouble with the conversion and the score was suddenly 20 – 10.

The remainder of the half was all one-way traffic with the Crusaders running in another five unanswered tries, a couple of which looked ridiculously easy.

Mr. Briant mercifully whistled full time with the Crusaders in front 55-10, ending a 42 – 0 second half masterclass.

Random Musings

  • This tactic of leaving the wide channels open to be guarded by a scrambling cover defence is rubbish. It doesn’t work for the Wallabies and it certainly isn’t working for the Rebels – even without shuffling around defenders. Foxsports has the Rebels missing 38 tackles for the game, that is just unacceptable.
  • The Rebels stood off just about every ruck, allowing the opposition to recycle the ball quickly and play at their own tempo. Conversely, the Crusaders are masters at slowing the ball down, they make every ruck a mess for the attacking team. The Cru’ also have a happy knack of often having a stationary man acting as a screen for the ball runner, quite often he will even have his hands in the air to indicate, “I’m not actually here, Sir”.
  • The Rebels are really struggling in the midfield and need to find a better centres combination. None of the ball playing options are able to bring the outside backs into the game at all. Actually, the centres aren’t seeing enough of the ball themselves – that problem starts with the fly-half.
  • The Crusaders don’t play an overly extravagant game. They run at the defence, draw a defender or three, then put the ball through the hands until they can spin the ball wide or turn it back inside. It’s their intent that makes the difference, constant, in-your-face pressure whether they are attacking or defending.
  • Chibba Hansen and Nic Stirzacker are much better players than Rangi and Ruru.
  • This was the Rebels seventh straight loss at home to a Kiwi team.
  • This was the Rebels worst loss at home.
  • This was the Crusaders eighth straight win in Australia.
  • I’m really happy that the Rebels have a new major sponsor but I think their logo needs a bit of work. It looks a bit busy on the front of the jerseys.

There have been some real improvements in the new look Rebels play this year but they have a long, long way to go before they can even joke about knocking off any of the better teams. They will need to regroup in a hurry if they want to have a chance against the Brumbies in Canberra next Saturday night.

The Game Changer

Will Genia cops an earful from Ritchie Mo’unga

Losing Will Genia in the 38th minute put an end to any Rebel resistance.


Any number of Crusaders could have been MOTM

A number of Crusaders could have shared the honours, especially their backrowers. I’m giving Man of the Match to Number Eight, Jordan Taufua for a powerhouse display.

Wallaby Watch

Some hard work from LT

Lopeti Timani had a couple of strong runs in his half hour. Will Genia may have injured himself out of the June test series.

The Details

Scores and Scorers


Trys: R. Hodge (33″)

Conversions: J. Debreczeni -1

Penalties: J. Debreczeni – 1


Trys: S. Tamanivalu (8″), A. Makalio (19″), A. Makalio (45″), J. Goodhue (52″), P. Samu (64″), B. Hall (66″), W. Crockett (78″), M. Mataele (80″)

Conversions: R. Mo’unga – 2, M. Hunt – 4

Penalties: R. Mo’unga – 1[/one_half]

Cards and Citations

14″ R. Hodge (Rebels) Yellow Card
22″ Matt Todd (Crusaders) Yellow Card
33″ David Havili (Crusaders) Yellow Card

Crowd: 11,357


  • Andy

    Watching Allalatoa and Samu reminded me how bad player development is in Australia (and how good NZ’s is). Those 2 couldn’t get a Super Rugby contract in Australia (where there is a player depth issue) yet a few years at the Crusaders and 1 will likely get selected for the best team in the world and one would walk into nearly any other international team.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Absofriggenlutely Andy

    • Huw Tindall

      Can someone point out what they actually did in NZ that was different/special? I’m sure someone can but I’d love to see it written down.

      • Andy

        Great question. But I doubt anyone on here would know.

  • Keith Butler

    Impossible to argue against any of the random musings. The Rebs were lucky to go in at half time only 3 points down. Saders had the majority of possession and the Rebs gave away penalties and fell of tackles.Got even worse in the second half. Tamanivalu’s try summed up the Rebs game for me. Big bloke, strong upper body running close to touch so the Rebs defenders go for the chest and get bounced three times – pathetic. And to rub it in a 120+kg hooker seagulling on the wing scores twice. Forwards got taken to the cleaners again and the backs lost any sense of direction when WG went off.
    I’ve supported the Rebs since they started but for the first time ever I switched off the tv before the end of the game out of sheer frustration. Take a lesson from the Jaguars. Four wins on the road and a great team.

    • Hoss

      Yep mate – i switched off when Sanchez left the field. Watched ‘Three Billboards outside Ebbing’ – much better entertainment than watching, what famed coach Patches O’Hoolihan best describes as ‘a bunch of dimwits stand around trying to fuck a door knob’ – sums up the Rebels nicely.

      • Keith Butler

        Hoss you are a true wordsmith. Almost Shakespearean.

        • Hoss

          Thou dost me a kindneff

      • Brisneyland Local

        Anyone who quptes the legendary Patches O’Hoolihan is a demi god themselves!
        The Five Rules of Aus Rugby:
        And Dickheads!

        • Hoss

          Thats gold Briz – i needed to laugh

        • Brisneyland Local

          All part of BL’s community service ! Order! ha ha ha

    • Brendan Maughan

      I have to agree about the tackling, even with my minimal rugby experience (2 games for the Hamilton Boys High 4th XV) one thing sticks in my mind, tackle them around the ankles and they fall down. Schoolboys can figure it out, why can’t professional players.

      I know they all want to prevent the offload yada yada but if the player is on the ground, he isn’t going to score.

      • Rebels3

        Generally Australian players aren’t putting their body on the line. Thing is I believe they think they are, but they aren’t doing it to the same manner that the other countries are

  • Adrian

    I’ve been trying to say this for a while, but the inside backs for Rebs (except Genia) are hopeless play makers.

    Better not to try it at all with amateurs.

    Better to put the 2 classy speedsters (Korebette, Naivalu) at 12 and 13, and have the experience of DHP at 10. English on wing, Hodge full-back.

    Hope that big fast guys get some ball via DHP, or backing up Mafi.

    Young guy Goodwin at halfback

    Timani in every game.

    Trying to be conservative and defensive and slowing game has’nt worked. Try something else

    • Hoss

      Agree above mate – but what about the rucks from the Rebels if Offence & Defence – they are just horrible at it and dont seem to know what to do.

      They are a really poorly coached & lead team. Maybe Coleman is suffering second season blues, but what does he do on the field that gets him a gold jersey ? Being big cant be all there is to it surely ?

      And Paling – he has to be one of the worst signings for the Rebels since Capriani….

      • Keith Butler

        I remember commenting here a week or so ago that making Coleman captain was not a good move. He needs to give it up and focus on his own game. I thought Sean Mc was a good choice because he led the team by example and always gave 110%. Pity he moved on.

      • John R

        Take the captaincy off of Coleman. Just give it Genia. We all know he’s calling the shots anyway.

        Just let Coleman go back to being the c–t that he is.

        The only good thing about his poor form is that it stops the knuckle draggers braying for Coleman to be captain over Hooper.

  • Hoss

    Good read Mr Wobbly.

    1 x criticism – surely with a game played on 4th May the healdine should read ‘Darth Saders crush Rebel Alliance’

    1 x excellent point from you worth exploring.

    I have ranted ad nauseam about the Rebs 10, lets call it what it is, he is hopeless, Meakes is an impostor, Hodge has surely played hmself out of gold (a regular on here – Joy, quoted his one-on-one tackle percentage a few weeks back, well that % didnt improve last night. He can kick all the threes he wants, but he concedes fives and some were calling for Ruru in gold, well fuck me iam gonna hit the gym, because i could sure as shit be in contention then if the criteria was cant pass, poor tackler, dumb options and generally untalented – ii will send my CV off to Kepler striaght away) but i digress…..You state the Saders are better coached and there in lies problem one.

    Man for man our coaches are shite. I let rip about players on here on a regular basis (wait till they post tonites reviews of the Tah’s game – man am i juiced and ready to go). But the guys in charge of coraling our cattle, reprogramming them and filling them with generic ideas on

    a) crossing a white line 100 yards from your own – and
    b) stopping the other guys from doing same to yours.

    Well lets just say, they all seem to be rugby equivalents of mental pygmies.

    And there in lies the rub, forget skills, fitness, BMI ratios and all the new age fancy words like ‘patterns of plays, structures. formats’ – when an inmate is running the asylum you cant complain when you get faeces in your food every night.

    And ladies & gents, here comes my punchline. For each of us AUSTRALIAN Rugby loving followers (i cant say fan, because the teams, coaches, players, administrators and hangers on have sucked the living joy from my rugby passion) we are being treated like the inmates i mention above – a big pile of steaming hot shit is being served to us each weekend and we are supposed to believe it tastes like caviar.

    Well fuck me if i havent had enough.

    • Rebels3

      One thing I think BT has done well with the Reds is strip back all the technical aspects and basically said run hard in attack and hit hard in defense. It’s clearly not good enough atm but it will provide a platform to build technical aspects around it.

      • Mica

        Problem is if you don’t do this by default at SR level, what are you doing?

    • Brisneyland Local

      HOss, wow coming in off the long run up on that one. But cant argue with a single word of it. So much so that I have been hitting the gym for two weeks now, and I reckon I am half a chance for this rebeles side. Infact I am half a chance for the Wallabies with the way all of the Aus SR locks are playing!

      • Hoss

        Wait till the Tahs game review goes up,


        taking the kids for a ride around a local wildlife reserve near home to walk off my maniacal, steaming, bad mood.

        Serenity now.

        • Brisneyland Local

          Yep, am just watching the game now. Am 8 mins in and it is looking awful already!

    • Richard Patterson

      Congrats on a well written piece.

    • John R

      I can’t for the life of me understand why Wessels keeps persisting with Debereczini.

      If you have to have him out there, then play him at fullback. He’s so terrible that he’s making Marika and Naivalu look like lepers out on the wings.

      • Custard Taht

        Because the Reds and Thorn won’t trade Cooper.

        • John R

          This is one point I think RA need to just step in and force the issue.

      • Missing Link

        Have to agree, however I think it’s a case of better the devil you know. It’s not over for the Rebels yet and shifting Maddocks to 10 could put them in a worse predicament. At least with Debreczeni, he knows the plays and you know what you’re going to get. I think in previous years, hodge was creating a lot of opportunities and that seems to have changed this year.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Love the Star Wars reference mate. A lot of players seeming to play their way out of the Wallabies except that who are the players play8ng their way 8nto the team?
      Mate until the states relinquish some of their myopic power to RU and there is a national framework bringing coaches from schoolboy all the way to the Wallabies with a structure and clear criteria for improvement this won’t change. TBH I’d say the same for players, administrators and players. Also, ffs stop recruiting players who can’t get a Super contract in NZ. There’s probably a good reason for that.
      I feel your pain mate

      • Hoss

        The thing for me KRL is – its not the loss / losing that gets me. Its the manner of performance that is killing me.

        Its the complete immaturity of a team that has players with over 500 test caps in their ranks.

        In all of this something has to give, something has to change and change now.

        I get the NSW roster is poor at best, but i would send a signal to the Southern Right Humpback Whales fellow protected species, Bernhard, ‘i am fucking useless’ Foley and bannish his arse to the Shute Shield and let him rot, whats the worst thing that could happen ? We would bomb tries, miss kicks for touch (one of which cost us a try last night, plus the house brick of a pass he shovelled to Beale – admittidley started by Dusty Springfield – anyone would have though Izzy was tring to offload a Village People Album the way he through it !!), we would have no set-up, no direction, no solid defender at 10………………….so whats the bloody difference to the status quo ???????????????

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Unfortunately mate it won’t change while Cheika is coach. I think he sees requests for change as a personal challenge to his coaching and so will stay with what he knows. Looking forward I see a lot more pain to come. Some are saying that Ireland might bring a B side and that’ll help. Personally at the moment they could bring a friggen D side and be in with a shot.

    • Missing Link

      10/10 just for the first point Hoss, Darth Saders indeed!

  • Kokonutcreme

    Thanks Mr Wobbly for your musings, it can’t have been easy to write this.

    The Rebels face the very real possibility of missing the top eight when it was only five weeks ago they were leading the competition overall, before facing the Hurricanes. That result marked the beginning of their downward spiral with five consecutive losses.

    The Australian conference remains a tight race with only four points separating the Rebels from the leading Waratahs and the chasing Reds.

    The loss of their onfield general Will Genia for their next 3 games against the Brumbies, Sunwolves and Blues will be particularly tricky to manage for Dave Wessels. Debreczeni isn’t playing with the confidence of someone who knows how to control a game in Genia’s absence, but of greatest concern is their leaky defence. Against SA and NZ opposition they’ve struggled against SA’s power running game and NZ’s high tempo wide running game.

    They’ve completed their SA conference games but have two away games in NZ.

    In their local derbies, the Rebels are far more competitive, while that may not sound like a ringing endorsement for Australian rugby as a whole, its their challenge and responsibility to uplift the “Australian way” of playing rugby, to a consistently winning way instead of trying to imitate their conference rivals.

    There is something off about the Rebels attack, when you have two flying wings like Naivalu and Koroibete in your side, it’s criminal that they’re not featuring amongst the competition’s top try scorers. However when you watch the Rebels move the ball wide, it’s very conventional and predictable – dare I say it, very structured.

    It’s fair to say that perhaps pre-season expectations for the Rebels were overly inflated given the number of Force players recruited. While it did increase the depth of their playing squad, given where both teams finished in the competition last year, it will take more than one season to suddenly elevate them from cellar dwellers to the top shelf.

    • Keith Butler

      Your final para summed it up nicely. I was anticipating the influx of Force forwards to toughen up the pack but that hasn’t happened if the last 3 games are anything to go by. Genia cannot work miracles and his stand in isn’t up to it. The Rebs should have done more to persuade Stirzaker, Toby Smith and Sean Mc to stay. Debs as far as I’m concerned is all hype and even Hodge is starting to move into that category – a big kick but not a lot else. I never expected the Rebs to be top shelf in their first season as a combined team but many of the problems we’ve seen are down to bad techinique etc which you should not see from professional players.

  • Jack

    Great report Mr Wobbly, agree totally with your analysis. Could also add that Rebels lose at at the breakdown while Crusaders gain at the breakdown almost every time

  • John R

    Guys I found a leak of the Rebels game plan, straight from Wessels:

    1. Give it to Mafi and hope he makes a linebreak. Even though that’s the only first phase, or any phase play we EVER do, they’ll never see it coming.

    2. If they do see it coming, hope that Genia can figure something out on the spot.

    3. If Genia goes off, forget how to play rugby.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      That’s gold. Sad that it’s also probably true

  • Rebels Ruck

    Apart from the tackling and scrummaging issues, has anyone noticed how many high balls we don’t contest and let the opposition take, or even let the ball bounce? Bit of a worry this far into the season

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