Crusaders Squash Rebels Like A Bug - Green and Gold Rugby
Melbourne Rebels

Crusaders Squash Rebels Like A Bug

Crusaders Squash Rebels Like A Bug

The Rebels crossed the ditch in an effort to keep their dwindling finals hopes alive.

The Match

The Rebels come into this match after a close loss to the Waratahs the previous week. A win would have been an almost certain ticket to finals footy for the first time, but now the road is a lot harder.

Meanwhile, the Crusaders return from Fiji, wounded after suffering a shock loss to the Chiefs. This was also Ryan Crotty’s 150th Super Rugby game, so they wanted a win even more.

First half

The match started off fairly evenly with a fair bit of to’ing and fro’ing. The Rebels actually had the first opportunity to score via a penalty kick attempt by Reece Hodge, but it sailed wide and with it the only chance the Melbourne boys had to get first points on the board.

Come the ninth minute and Sevu Reece strolled over for what would be the first of eight (count ‘em, eight) tries for the Crusaders back three. Richie Mo’unga converted and the Crusaders were well and truly on their way. Tries followed for David Havili and Braydon Ennor to keep the scoreboard ticking over. If things weren’t looking grim enough for the Rebels, Adam Coleman was substituted off in the 33rd minute with a shoulder injury.

On the half-time siren the Rebels tried to keep the ball alive, which they did, straight to the Crusaders who finished off the half with a try to Ennor, his second for the night.

Isi Naisarani – one of the few Rebels who shone.

The teams headed off to the sheds with the Crusaders holding a commanding 26 to nil lead. The Rebels needed to turn things around and fast.

Sevu Reece bags a hat trick for the Crusaders.

Second half

It couldn’t get any worse, could it? It could and it did.

Without going into too much detail (because it is late and my anger hasn’t subsided) the Crusaders piled on another 40 unanswered points in the second half via six tries, most of them out wide, exposing the weaknesses of the Rebels’ wing defenses. The Rebels did have their chances, but too often they blew them by trying to be clever and play like the home team. Only problem is, they aren’t anywhere near as good as the Crusaders.

The icing on the turd cake was a try at full-time to Ryan Crotty, celebrating his 150th game. It was like it was a Hollywood script, even going so far as Crotty having an attempt at converting his celebratory try and… well, bugger me he kicked it. The final siren sounded and it was off to the pub to celebrate (if you were a Crusaders fan, that is).

Back to the drawing board for Rebels head coach Dave Wessels.

The wrap-up

66 to nil. Let that sink in for a moment. The Rebels have had their fair share of big losses before, but to be held scoreless against such a big score really bites.

Sure, Genia was being rested, with Cooper and Koroibete coming off the bench, so the task was always going to be tough, but no one would have thought it was going to be this bad for the Rebels.

A bloke sitting next to me at the match snugly said to me “hey bro, if you happen to make the finals, it is likely you will have to come back over here to play the Crusaders”.


 Ryan Crotty celebrates 150 Super Rugby games with a try and conversion.

The game changer

Not sure there was one, really. I guess after Sevu Reece’s try in the ninth minute it was all downhill from there and the Rebels never got a look-in.


Who do you pick? From the Crusaders, obviously. Their back three were responsible for 8 of the Crusaders (gulp) 10 tries, so I am giving this to the Men of the Match; Braydon Ennor, Sevu Reece and David Havili.

Wallaby Watch

Seriously, this is difficult. Despite the horrific loss, Isi Naisarani and Jordan Uelese had decent games in a well-beaten team. Naisarani, especially, had some strong carries and his tackling was far superior to that of his teammates.


Score & Scorers

Crusaders  66(26)
Tries: Braydon Ennor 3, Sevu Reece 3, David Havili 2, Bryn Hall, Ryan Crotty
Conversions: Richie Mo’unga 7, Crotty
Penalties: Nil

Rebels 0 (0)
Tries: Zip!
Conversions: Zilch!
Penalties: Nada!

Cards & Citings



  • formerflanker

    Up until I turned the TV off in disgust, Richie Mo’unga was having an absolute blinder.

  • Huw Tindall

    Game changer was the ref blowing the whilstle to start the game

    • nmpcart

      Ouch – very accurate though. The scoreline doesn’t include the botched Crusaders tries like when Keiran Reid dropped the ball without a Rebels hand on him. Got to wonder what Wessels does now, there really wasn’t a positive in this and with something like 7 Wallabies in the starting lineup I think, including 4 in the backline it is worrying. The possession stats were pretty even – 54% to Crusaders 1st half, 46% 2nd, but only one side did something with the ball. The Crusaders made a lot more tackles yet scored 66 points. Toomua at 10 for the WC still?…..

      • OnTheBurst

        Toomua didn’t do much at all at 10. He’s a 10/12 sub at best for Was for me (as Kerevi must be 12 and there are better options at 10)

      • RedAnt

        Toomua used to be a very good 10… he would need several games there to know whether he still is though. Certainly not great signs last night, but then, no 10 is gonna save a team that falls off that many tackles against the cru.

      • Huw Tindall

        It’ll be a tough case to make as even if the Rebels make the finals he can’t play as arrive back early enough for cut off date around mid season. Has shown nothing to have him in the side at 10 or 12. Let’s be honest Cooper and Foley will be in the TRC squad and I’d take CLL as 10/12 on current form too. Kerevi and Hunt would be my 12s. No room for Toomua.

        • nmpcart

          Isn’t Hunt out with injury Huw, or is it not that serious?

        • Huw Tindall

          Yeah but is was an MCL strain rather than completely snapping it. Think was 4-6 weeks so could have been a chance at finals if the Tahs got there. Should be OK come TRC.

        • Ian Rodger

          I’d rather have Meakes at 12 over Hunt but that might be just me. I get the feeling that when the rebs started shuffling him out of the back line, they lost their cohesion.

        • Huw Tindall

          Good point and I agree Meakes was unfairly benched to make room for the ‘stars’ in Hodge/DHP and now Toomua. I’d have kept the 10/12/13 access of QC/Meakers/English and make Hodge, DHP, Maddocks and Marika fight out the back 3. As far as I’ve seen there is no evidence that Hodge is a better 12/13 than Meakes or English. If anything Hodges best games have been on the wing.

          On Meakes vs Hunt I’d probably err on the side of Hunt for his big game experience, hard running, and versatility. Meakes is no slouch but Hunt goes 110% at the ball. Would be happy enough with Meakes in the squad though as a backup 12. Has certainly played really well at times this year.

  • Having missed so much SR I watched this one. There’s that old cliché about men playing boys that sprang to mind. I’ve seen more one-sided matches in a RWC when one of the big sides plays a real minnow. You know that side that got there through repecharge or whatever. I remember watching the AB beat Portugal 108-7 or something like that, but Portugal had the excuse that their team were all amateurs in a time when rugby had turned professional in the rest of the world. And they still scored a try, and the whole of the crowd, AB fans included, cheered like crazy.

    What, pray, was the Rebels’ excuse? They’re a side on the fringes of finals footy. On the basis of this result, they’re not going to make it and they don’t deserve to. Maybe next year? Yet again…

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Not without some changes. They need a good 13 to get some starch in the backline and they just haven’t got that

      • Huw Tindall

        Feel sorry for Tom English on that front. A decent super standard 13 who knows the position inside and out. Wessels’s is doing a Chek by trying to fit all his ‘stars’ into the backs without thought for time in position. Hodge has played his best games at wing. Leave him there. Maddocks needs a few kegs and to learn how to tackle but really he is another 15.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Mate it seems to be a thing here. Get three people who are good but play the same position and then have two of them out of position so they’re on the field and then wonder why they’re either shit or just not good. I’ve heard Maddocks is a converted 10. Maybe he needs to go there

        • Huw Tindall

          Very frustrating. Could understand if depth in a certain position was diabolical then probably better off having a pro than some poor bugger from club rugby or an academy side but even in Aus the depth isn’t that bad! Nothing wrong being kepy out of the side by better players. My own uncle was stuck behind Ken Catchpole back in the day!

  • Hoss

    Apart from their defence, attack, game management, desire, will, commitment and ability I thought the Rebels did well.

    Seems Mr Wessels may not be the messiah after all, just a very naughty boy.

    • Bit harsh – Their dropped ball was very consistent, even graceful

      • Hoss

        Synchronised spilling.

        • Keiran did it better tho

        • Hoss

          Shows the humanity of the man, not even he could bring himself to inflict more cruelty. Watching the match was like watching a sadistic cat tease a slightly dim mouse before mercifully disembowelling it.

        • Fair enough, I thought he may just have been proving he could do even that with more style.
          Bloody show-off

    • Richard Patterson

      The facts appear to be that Dave Wessels is a good guy. Approachable, hard-working, diligent and committed to developing himself as a professional coach. If the argument could be made he never had the playing cattle at the Western Force, those same comments cannot be raised with this Rebels squad loaded with internationals. What this Rebels side have served up in the last 5-6 weeks has been underwhelming. What they presented last night was downright embarrassing. They started well, were well in the contest at the 15 minute mark but what happened in the 2nd quarter of the match was worrying. Any side under pressure at halftime who with the benefit of 10 minutes together to “sort things out” then proceed to concede 40 points in the 2nd half are either poorly coached, poorly captained, mentally soft, poorly skilled – or perhaps ALL of the above. Wessels may need to resurrect this franchise pretty quickly otherwise he may find he’s wearing that unfortunate tag of “nice guy, poor coach”. As the great Bill Parcells always said “you are what your record says you are”. For Wessels and this Rebels mob – that currently feels apt.

      • disqus_NMX

        The reality is this Crusaders game was always going to be a write off. He rested Genia and QC against the top side. Says it all. Yep, shoulda/coulda/woulda done better then they did, especially with Toomua having a crack at 10, but they didn’t, such is life.

        The Rebels are above the Waratahs and the Reds on the ladder, and both are also full of Wallabies, or even more so, so if you’re going to say Wessels is a poor coach based on results, then the same has to be said about the other coaches. And really, the Brumbies aren’t that far ahead either, so if you’re going to claim Wessels is shit, you’d also have to argue that all Oz Super coaches are shit (I’m not saying you can’t argue that, just saying let’s be a bit fairer on Wessels, he’s got his team 2nd in the conference, ahead of the Wara-wallabies, and ahead of the Reds-are-too-good-for-QCs).

        • Richard Patterson

          Fair points. I think comparing the Wallaby staked Rebels team with a bunch of young 21 year kids at the Reds is a stretch, but I take your point. The Waratahs are once again soft – what part of that should surprise anyone? They’ll blame the Folau distraction but the bottom line is (ex. Hooper) they are a playing squad full of mentally soft, low skilled, highly entitled players secure in their place in the squad, secure in their pay cheque every month and secure in the fact that win, lose or draw nothing in their life changes. They epitomise the reasons non-rugby people in Sydney dislike the code and why most rugby fans outside NSW dislike the Waratahs.
          I think the facts are Wessels for the 1st time as a Head Coach in Australia had a playing squad that was competitive. Whether Genia or Cooper was playing last night to me is somewhat irrelevant. Clever, competitive, well coached, well-prepared teams do not get flogged by 60+ points. They also don’t drop 6 of their last 9 games – a statistic further boosted by 2 wins over the last placed Sunwolves.
          I think people were prepared to give Wessels a legitimate opportunity to prove himself as a Head Coach. I think many hoped he would do well and develop.
          Maybe he could present himself as a possible Wallaby candidate after Michael Cheika if the performances and the results warranted it. What I saw last night was a side very low on skill, very low on effort, very low on commitment and very low on desire when the going got tough. There has to be accountability doesn’t there? It starts with a coaching staff and a senior leadership group. If Wessels was unproven when he took on the Force coaching job 4 years ago – he looked dreadfully niave last night.

        • disqus_NMX

          I agree that the Rebels played very poorly. But you are talking as if they are a star studded line up. The only walk in starter to the Wallabies is Genia. There’s 1 or 2 of should be’s (as in Coleman should be, but he’s been in poor form), and a handful of could be’s, maybes and fringe selections, but no one else is guaranteed a place. And the rest of the squad are journey men, or young and not there yet. The Reds are in a similar place if you look at the list of players, and have been “building” for the last half century.

        • Richard Patterson

          I consider a playing squad featuring Adam Colemen, Luke Jones, Isi Naisarani, Jordan Uelese, Will Genia, Quade Cooper, Matt Toomua, Reece Hodge, Marika Korobete, Dane Haylett-Petty and Jack Maddocks to be above average. I agree that too many others are journeymen. Last night they played like a side devoid of heart and skill. Someone has to take ownership of that.

          The Reds are an organisation suffering from a lost decade. Too much management and administrative laziness after a rare success in 2011? Will Genia and Quade Cooper were part of that downhill slide up there. Now they’re aligned to a spluttering, underperforming Rebels squad. If it’s not Wessels, where does the blame in Melbourne belong?

        • joy

          The players and staff saw it as a dead rubber.

      • Perth girl

        Wessels had the cattle at the Force as was shown by their demolition of the Waratahs in their last game in Perth, unfortunately that team wasnt allowed to develop by RA.

    • Jack

      well said Hoss

    • Greg

      And their training?

      • Hoss

        Chefs tell me the final taste is all down to the prep before, so……

  • IIPA

    Isi, Meakes and Jones went ok. Certainly had a crack and didn’t commit some of the shocking examples of play we saw from those around them.

    DHP, Hodge, Maddocks, Toomua all terrible alas.

    I’m a big wrap on Philip but he also had a bad one last night.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Mate just picking on one, I don’t think Hodge has ever demonstrated enough to be considered a 13. His decision making is poor there and he gets caught out too much. I think at best he’s a reserve wing or fullback. I was really disappointed with Toomua as I had hoped he show what he’s played in the past and that just never happened.

      Pretty shit all round really

      • Ev

        Yep, thought Hodge was one of the worst in a very poor side.

      • Geoffro

        I’ve often puzzled over what some people see in Hodge.As much as I’m not advocating AAC for the Wallabies he still has it over Hodge in most areas (the line he ran to take his try last night was superb and just shows his instinct) and he’s a far more reliable defender.Toomua with all his hype after his return at last years backend is a flop , I’d rather have Lilo.Congrats to Crotty – warmed my heart to see him grab that try and convert it.

      • Andy

        He’s a 15 and that’s it. And a decent 15 at that.

  • Custard Taht

    Well, there is not much one can say about that game, other than it was an embarrassment.

    How that team with that talent, with their finals chances on the line, can turn in a listless performance against the Tah’s and then back that up with a pea hearted cluster fuck against the Crusaders, and miss the finals, is beyond comprehension.

    Wessels has all the gear and no idea, as a coach, he is a fitter and turner. He has taken good ingredients, fit them all into a pot and turned them into shit.

    He has a little to no strategical or tactical flexibility, and there has been no demonstrable improvement in the skills, accuracy and execution of the team.

    The Rebels need to send him packing.

    • Keith Butler

      I sincerely hope not. Finish 8th and it’s over the ditch for more ritual humiliation.

      • Custard Taht

        Ahhh but this time the Rebels would field their strongest team!

        What the Rebels have done is employ the roper dope. Take a schlacking from the Crusaders, scrape home unconvincingly against the Chiefs, travel to Christchurch, beat an unsuspecting and over confident Crusaders outfit in QF1, then beat the Hurricanes in SF1 to book a place in the final.

        The Brumbies will win QF4, travel to Argentina, beat the Pumas in the SF2, and host the final against the Rebels.

        The Rebels will then beat the Brumbies, as the Rebels actually them their Bunnies, and be crowned the 2019 Super Rugby championship.

        • Keith Butler

          And then you woke up after a night on the sauce after the thumping and discovered that it was all a dream. We can but dream.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Maaaaaate. You’re drinking the cool aid there. All mathematically possible but really?

    • Andy

      Not defending Wessels but at some point in Australian Rugby the players have to take some responsibility, put their hand up and acknowledge that they don’t give 100%, especially in defence. It happens too often. Defence is a reflection on attitude and should be practiced as hard and respected as much as attack.

      Across the board, the majority of our players do not do this and this has been the case for too long.

      • Custard Taht

        The players definitely have to own the performance as well, but whatever Wessels is selling, the players do not seem to be buying.

    • joy

      Yes Rebels will make it if they win next week. If only yesterday’s farce was part of some elaborate ambush.

    • Huw Tindall

      Glad I’m not the only one who isn’t swinging from Wessels’s nut sack anymore. Brumbies play smart. Reds play with heart. Tahs play without a pack and stwoll get a win. Rebels have continued to show a complete lack of a plan B. Good luck against the Chiefs this weekend. I really hope they pull it off and get a finals birth as they’ve played some exciting footy at times but I won’t hold my breath.

      • Custard Taht

        It would be good for them to make the finals, but it would be a cameo only.

  • Gipetto

    The Crusaders forwards rarely run one out. Their passes from the base of the ruck are short and generally the forward carrying the ball has another attached to his hip to double the impact and ensure that the ball carrier gets his shoulders through the defensive line. Aussie players are not fit enough for that level of involvement (or not coached to do it). Aussie teams passes from the base of the ruck are frequently too long and predictable allowing defenders to arrive at the ball carrier at the same time as the ball. Aussie teams focus on the clean out. Aussie sides run out of options early, the pace of attack slows and they have to have to kick because the frorwards are shot from being hammered in tackles and cleaning out without any go-forward. The kicking is generally poor and the back three for the best of the foreign sides are potent in attack and can easily predict when Ausies have to kick to relieve pressure.

    • Nutta

      Dunno who you are but that’s not just a reasonably accurate description of last nights mentality, but Oz rugby overall. We even heard the Cru Asst Coach make the same comment about being sure to ‘get the shoulders through.’ As for Oz general kicking, from a nation whose national sport if founded on being able to see movement & space 40m downfield and be able to hit it of both feet, well our inability to do it in Rugby only serves to illustrate the game’s own incestuousness and isolation from the rest of society.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Well said mate

    • MalachyBernard

      I think you just wrote the obituary of Australian rugby right there. How about we swallow our pride and import some brains from across the ditch and school our junior tiers with a way (kiwis way) that works? It’s not like it’s classified material – it’s there for the world to see.

  • joy

    Pathetic. There is no other word for it.

    Crusaders have the 2nd best defensive record for the season (after the Blues!), 87.2%. Rebels have the worst defensive record, 82% even though they played much weaker teams throughout the year.

    This shows in the game stats – Crusaders 88.3% Rebels 73.6%. Most of problem from midfield out: Meakes 69% Hodge 63% Maddox 50% Hallett-Petty 50% and Koriobete 25%.

    And, surprise surprise, Cooper comes on and makes three tackles in as many minutes for 100%. It’s not all that hard guys, you just need to switch on, read the game, get in their faces and have a go.

  • Andy

    When the Rebels get it going up front and use that flat attack it is a joy to watch. But unfortunately this team don’t have any defence or intestinal fortitude, both of which are mutual abilities in a game of rugby.

    Anyone still for Maddocks for the Wallaby wing spot? Another guy who has made it to professional rugby and treats defence as optional.

  • Larry Jorgensen

    Would be interesting to discuss with Toomua, over a quiet beer, what the differences between northern and southern hemisphere club Rugby are.

    First question would be, “is there a team like the Crusaders?”.

    • Patrick


Melbourne Rebels

Who was it that said "there's always next season"? Oh yes, it was me, every year... Played every position in the forwards as a lad, was crap at all of them.

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