Lam Sends Rebels to Slaughter - Green and Gold Rugby
Melbourne Rebels

Lam Sends Rebels to Slaughter

Lam Sends Rebels to Slaughter

The first contest between an Australian and NZ team this season was eagerly awaited. After four bonus point victories in five matches, how far had the Rebels come? After thirty minutes the Rebels led 19 points to eight. Unfortunately for Rebels fans, this was eerily similar to their match against the Waratahs. The Hurricanes grabbed the lead before halftime and didn’t look back from there, with the Canes scoring the last 42 points of the match.

The first thirty minutes were positive for the Rebels as was the crowd of 16,135, the Rebels’ biggest home crowd since 2012.

First Half

The game started with a poor clearing kick by Jack Debreczeni, which saw the Hurricanes on the attack straight away. The Hurricanes were awarded a penalty a short time later and Beauden Barrett dropped over the penalty from straight in front to give the Hurricanes a three-nil lead.

Amanaki Mafi made two big runs in the one stage of play to give the Rebels some momentum and the Rebels received a penalty. Jack Debreczeni then made it 3-all with a successful shot at goal.


Will Genia threw a loose pass just outside his 22 which gave a good opportunity to the Hurricanes. The Hurricanes almost made the Rebels pay with a wonderful inside ball by Beauden Barrett to Vince Aso but Billy Meakes managed to get his hand in the way and knock a pass back into Rebels possession.

Ngani Laumape put in a grubber kick from a scrum. Tom English gathered inside the field of play but took the ball back into the in goal. English passed to Maddocks who tried to burrow his way back into the field of play. Maddocks had the ball stolen in the ensuing tackle from Sam Lousi and the Hurricanes spread the ball wide through the Barrett brothers and Ben Lam scored in the corner. The Hurricanes leading 8-3.

Beauden Barrett took an intercept and ran 60 metres for what he thought was a try but Angus Gardner had other ideas awarding the Rebels a penalty for the Hurricanes being offside. Debreczeni kicked the goal to cut the Hurricanes’ lead to 8-6.

Beauden Barrett looked to set up some attacking play with a cross field kick but Jack Maddocks read it to perfection and gained some metres for the Rebels. A short time later, a dominant Ben Lam tackle on Billy Meakes created a ruck where the Hurricanes were able to win a penalty.

Julian Savea found some space on the wing and passed back to Jordie Barrett who tried to bulldoze over Billy Meakes, but Meakes was up to the task forcing a knock on from Barrett 5 metres out. The Rebels were awarded a penalty from the resulting scrum.

Jack Debreczeni gave the Rebels the lead with another penalty goal after 21 minutes. Angus Gardner then penalised the Hurricanes for being offside again and warned Brad Shields that this was the third penalty for being offside and if it didn’t change Gardner would sit someone down. Debreczeni slotted a fourth penalty goal to move to 216 points to move past Reece Hodge as the Rebels’ leading point scorer.

The Hurricanes were on the attack near the Rebels’ 22 but a loose pass was scooped up by Mafi to Debreczeni, who put in a long kick with the ball going into touch inside the Hurricanes’ 22. The Hurricanes took a quick line out but the ball was stolen by Billy Meakes. Genia put in a cross field kick and then the Rebels took the ball from one side of the field to another. Matt Philip ended up bouncing over the line for a try. The TMO was called into play and he determined that Meakes had the ball knocked out by a defender in the previous tackle and it was not a knock on by Meakes and awarded the try. Following the Debreczeni conversion the Rebels lead 19-8.


The Hurricanes on the attack drew another penalty and brought the score back to 19-11. A cross field kick that was misread by Debreczeni, he thought it was going out. Bounced in and bounced up for Ben Lam who ending up scoring his second and just like that the game was 19-18.

Then Beauden Barrett waltzed over untouched after throwing a dummy and after he added the conversion the Hurricanes went to the break leading 25-19.

Second half

Early in the second half Richard Hardwick was penalised for hands in the ruck and slotted the goal from 40 metres to take the Hurricanes lead to 28-19.

The Hurricanes dominated a scrum near their 10 metre line and were awarded a penalty. TJ Perenara took a quick tap and ran 35 metres before linking with Jordie Barrett, who was brought down in a good tackle by Tom English. Beauden Barrett then threw a pass which found the ground before Gareth Evans picked up the bouncing ball 30 metres out and he blew between Jermaine Ainsley and Marika Koroibete for a try. Beauden Barrett missed the conversion and the Hurricanes led 33- 19.

The Rebels ran the ball from inside their own 22 and received a penalty when Anaru Rangi was taken high close to halfway after a strong run. The Rebels then received another penalty for the Hurricanes being off their feet. From the lineout, Debreczeni poked his nose through the line and attempted a flick pass to Maddocks who would have scored but the ball was quite low and the ball was lost.

A poor pass from Richard Hardwick saw the ball turned over by the Rebels near half way. Enter Julian Savea and Vince Aso with strong runs who took the ball into the Rebels’ defensive 22. Then the ball went through the hands including a between the legs pass by Jordie Barrett from one wing to another. Brad Shields found Ngani Laumape on the other wing on the 22 and he bulldozed past Jack Maddocks and Will Genia to score. The score was now 40 to 19.

The Rebels then gave away a number of penalties including tackling someone in the air at the lineout and coming in from the side. It was Adam Coleman’s turn to receive a warning from referee Gardner. A professional foul on the try line by Billy Meakes saw him shown the cheese with 15 minutes to go.

The Hurricanes were on the attack but the Rebels were able to hang on and were awarded a scrum for an accidental offside. From the scrum the Rebels received a penalty Genia took it quickly but the Rebels were penalised at the next ruck for being offside. Ihaia West took the tap quickly and Ben Lam notched up a hat-trick. Hurricanes leading 45 – 19.

After ten phases the Rebels were on the attack but Jordie Barrett laid a brilliant one on one tackle to bring a charging Sefanaia Naivalu down and the Hurricanes stole the ball.

The Rebels had a scrum ten metres out and then tried a chip kick which just resulted in the ball going into Hurricanes hands and Ben Lam ended up scoring his fourth meat pie of the match. The Hurricanes ran out 50 to 19 winners.

The Game Changer

The match changed in the 34th minute with the Rebels leading 19-11, when Jack Debreczeni misjudged a cross field kick near the halfway line. He thought it was going out and didn’t try to take it and the ball bounced up for Ben Lam who ran the rest of the way to the try line.


Scoring four tries I couldn’t go past Hurricanes winger Ben Lam.

Wallaby Watch

Players like Reece Hodge and Marika Koroibete were conspicuous by their absence. Will Genia looked good with some quick ball in the first thirty minutes. The Rebels best player in the first half was arguably Amanaki Mafi, so he would fit into the category of Cherry Blossom watch.


Score & Scorers

Hurricanes 50
Tries: Ben Lam 4, Gareth Evans, Beauden Barrett, Ngani Laumape
Conversions: Beauden Barrett 3/5, Ihaia West 0/2
Penalties: Beauden Barrett 3/3
Rebels 19
Tries: Matt Philip
Conversions: Jack Debreczeni 1/1
Penalties: Jack Debreczeni 4/4

Cards and Citings
Rebels – Billy Meakes – 66th minute – repeated infringements


  • Parker

    Rebels Lambasted.

    • Huw Tindall

      Great start to the comments! Hat tip.

  • Bernie Chan

    Wow…conceding 50 points two weeks in a row! IFF the Rebels are the best Oz side (and it probably is too early to tell for certain..) then the trend of Oz sides being unable to beat the NZ sides is set to continue…For those who watched the game…was the Rebels defence that bad?

    • joy

      Rebels put 46 points on the Sharks last week.

      • Bernie Chan

        Sorry…that’s right, it was the Tarts that put a “score” on the Rebels…

    • McWarren

      It was bad, but then unlike Aussie teams the kiwis put value on out and out pace.

      • mikado

        The Kiwis are in the happy position of being able to select players who are physically strong, highly skilled AND have out and out pace. Everyone else is having to make compromises.

        • McWarren

          We have players with pace but we’d prefer to stick with players who have 40 to 50 test or super experience. We value losing experience over speed and skill.

    • Custard Taht

      The rebels are the best 1st half team in oz and the tahs the best 2nd half team.

      Maybe RA should do up a spreadsheet to cull the rebels, then ship the best of their players north to the tahs. Then oz might have a team great at both halves of a match.

      I think tahs are the best team in the conference and the reds second best. The two games between these teams will likely determine who tops the conference.

      • Ad-O

        I’m really liking how the Reds’ game is shaping up with limited cattle. Strong at set piece with a good defence will match up well with any opposition. You can go a long way with that. Reds – Waratahs game will be very interesting.

  • Huw Tindall

    Unexpected and disappointing that. It doesn’t seem like the Rebels have a plan B. They just couldnt hold onto the ball. They needed to slow things down and build phases. Where was the pick and drive and forward pods? You can beat the Canes at their own loose wide game. Against the Tahs the Rebels couldnt regain control and again today. Smacks of a no plan B which we’ve pilloried Cheika for relentlessly.

  • Ruggaman
  • Custard Taht

    I cannot believe there were “educated” posters on here tipping the rebels to win. The rebels have shown themselves to be a team with a plan A, and no ability to switch to B or C.

    Plan A works for 40mins, good opposition like the Tahs and Canes make adjustments at half time. Whilst the opposition change things up, the rebels keep plugging away with plan A, looking lost and out to sea, whilst being torn to bits.

    Wessels is an enigma, not sure why he gets so much love….give me Cheika any day, and Thorn is clearly the next best coach in Australia.

    • Kokonutcreme

      “The rebels have shown themselves to be a team with a plan A, and no ability to switch to B or C.”

      Valid point. Wessels during the match and at halftime stated that they needed to win more ball because when they had possession they were able to put the Canes defence under pressure. They were guilty of coughing up possession in contact and it wasn’t until late in the second half they strung together their first passage of 5+ phases.

      There was a touch of good fortune in the Rebels try awarded, and bad luck in Barrett’s intercept try not being awarded but for all the possession the Rebels enjoyed in that 20 minute period of the first half, they weren’t threatening the Hurricanes tryline a great deal. The Canes indiscipline was being punished but their defence is still proving to be a difficult beast for teams to break down.

      Mafi made some eye catching carries and he attracts the camera and commentary, but he was very much a one man band. Timani was invisible and even Coleman didn’t feature as highly as you’d expect with his ball carrying. Canes defence adjusted and were able to reduce Mafi’s impact as the game wore on and his substitution robbed them of much of their sting.

      Rebels scrum was under pressure for most of the match but their lineout (so often a weakness of theirs) performed well.

      Hurricanes are building nicely, still not at their best on attack – passing and running lines are still a fraction off which is halting momentum, particularly when play moved to Savea’s wing.

  • Reds hopeful

    Amanaki mafi was in beast mode all night(until his hia), rebels had a great 35 mins then lost there way. To the canes credit, they switched from run and punch to kick and chase which broke the back of the rebels. Disappointing end to such a enjoyable first half.

  • McWarren

    There is no taking a at from the Hurricanes, they deserved that win. Well done Canes. Heads up Rebs you can still make the finals and reverse that result.

    One thing the Kiwis do well that Aussie rugby teams need to learn is when to give away penalties. While the Rebels were white hot in the the first 30 minutes the Canes repeatedly got offside either in attack or defence. They constantly went one step too far at the break down. But they know the refs don’t card players in the first 30. So where as the Rebs should have been 30 clear and cruising they were only 12 up and well within the grasp of the Canes. The Canes slowed the Rebs continually and only received a warning. Even if they had gotten a card it’s a lot easier to cover a man down after only /0 minutes of play then it is at the 60 minute mark and your chasing the game.

    So when the Rebs are on a roll the Canes go cynical, slow them down, concede some points and wait. Wait until the wind is out of the Rebs sail, its the second half so the defending team is a lot more likely to get a card, so you up the pace and voila the gates open.

    • idiot savant

      Very true about knowing when to push the boundaries. Its real game nouse and the kiwis are masters at it. They re good enough to win without it but they leave no stone unturned.

    • Garry

      When under the pump, the QLD Maroons have their ‘QUEENSLANDER!’ rallying call. The NZ SR sides all have the ‘MCCAW!’ call, which is a signal to stop the opposition scoring by using any means. It’s usually heard more often in the first half when yellow cards are unlikely.

    • Seaweed

      Spot on. Clever play by clever players coached by clever coaches. Who’d’a thunk that just biff, boff, bashing wouldn’t work. Over to you Australia.

    • Missing Link

      The game actually reminded me of a few recent Bledisloe cup matches, so it’s no wonder

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Scott, it certainly didn’t live up to my expectations as I thought the Rebels would have put up more of a fight. I’m not so sure it’s a lack of plan B that’s the issue, more that the Rebels weren’t able to execute their game plan and then tried to do too much when they did get the ball. I thought the Rebels big names were kept very quiet. Hodge is no 13, Coleman was quiet and Koroibete showed he’s got a lot to learn yet. The Canes played well and took their chances. For me the last run by Savea showed why he was dropped. 2 years ago he would have scored that easily.

    • Custard Taht

      Not being able to execute their plan is probably due to the Hurricanes not allowing them to…..when you can’t execute your primary plan, it’s probably a good time to try something new. No point flogging a dead horse, better to change horses.

  • BigNickHartman

    Firstly I just wanna say hi to Dave Wessels if you’re reading the comments

    • onlinesideline

      Hi Dave

  • Nutta

    Very disappointing outcome on a number of fronts.

    After being up by about 19-12 (ish) at about 30min the Rebs concede a late-half try and basically lost their heads in the Premiers Quarter (40-60min). They are just 2 Golden Rules you don’t do. The AFL guys call the 3rd Qtr the Premiers Quarter because of its true significance that as when the grind is really on its the fair-dinkum who grind on and the others who slip. The Rebs slipped. Bad.

    Scrum work by the Rebs was likewise poor even despite a few mic’d-up pseudo-experts claiming to expect otherwise.

    The inability to share the workload with other ball carriers meant Mafi was a 1 man band and once he went there were no hard-yards makers taking over. They need to make better use of Timani, Coleman etc whilst Mafi is on the field.

    • onlinesideline

      Timani needs to make better used of Timani

      • Nutta

        I take your point – we are responsible for ourselves – but from a coaching perspective they have 1 great and 2 good forward ball runners and they don’t spread the load and/or threat

  • Richard Patterson

    Without wishing to rain on the Rebels early season parade, I think a few things need to be put in perspective here. For the 2nd time in 3 weeks, I believe some relevant themes emerged.

    1. The Rebels are the collective assembly of a dreadful 2017 Rebels team and a largely poor performing 2017 Force team (well led by Matt Hodgson). The notion of 1+1=2 is flawed. It feels to me like 1+1 in this case equals 1.5. We saw that again last night.

    2. Dave Wessels is a nice guy. To label Dave Wessels a good head coach is premature. He is a promising young head coach but once again last night he got schooled in preparation, execution and an ability to stay in a contest where momentum is shifting away from you. The Rebels have undoubtedly done lots of “team culture” activities which are important. However, in the white hot heat of professional rugby game planning, tactics and adjusting to the flow of games is ultimately what wins you big games against good opposition. The Rebels last night flopped on all that.

    On a few seperate notes….
    a/ How is humanly possible for an international winger to be subbed off with 0 touches and therefore 0 run meters? Either work some plays to bring Marika Koroibete into the game, or even better Marika — go looking for the ball and get yourself involved. Running up and down the outside channel waiting for the ball to come to you is not the hallmarks of a guy setting a standard, making a difference or earning the not inconsiderable amount of money he is getting paid. I’d officially be putting this guy on watch. He looks to me a guy contemplating a return to the NRL or chasing Euro’s in France.

    b/ Amanaki Mafi’s ball running contributions are not in dispute. What is though is his work rate on defence. The Rebels are a side that will never dominate possession so he must develop more balance in his effectiveness. Or is this guy a one trick pony?

    c/ If Will Genia is truly a leader in this Rebels playing squad, why does he go missing when momentum starts to go against the Rebels. Anyone spot his 2nd half contribution, or efforts to lift the Rebels last night? How about in Sydney 2 weeks ago?

    d/ Is Reece Hodge increasingly becoming a utility player lacking the expertise to be a specialist? He looked out of his depth last night at centre – but I believe lacks the tactical kicking game to play 10, the passing skills to play 12 or the speed to play winger. Someone needs to make some decisions here before this becomes Israel Folau II.

    • idiot savant

      Some good points Richard tho I think you’re harsh on the Force. The sheer relentlessness of the Canes was too much for the Rebels defence and their forwards inability to maintain possession for long periods. When the storm broke the Rebels could neither pressure the Canes through good defence nor have the patience when they had the ball to grind out some phases and keep structure in the game. They were too keen to be expansive and when they made mistakes the Canes just killed them.

      I agree with you about Hodge. I dont know where he fits, though Cheika thinks he is a flyhallf. I think his best performances have been at 12 (some on the wing for the Wallabies) but Meakes was so good and tough against quality opposition at 12 he has to stay there. When DHP comes back Hodge may well end up on the bench.

      • Richard Patterson

        Well thought out points pal. I am possibly too harsh on the Force. I felt sorry for how they were treated, but never felt they moved the needle enough to become a legitimate Super Rugby franchise. They played with heart as they fought for their lives – but lacked the skill to beat good sides.

      • Keith Butler

        The Rebs 2017 was bad agreed, but they played 4 NZ team and the Tahs in their opening games coupled with an horrendous injury list. How many games against the NZers did Aussie teams win? I think it’s wrong to apportion blame (if that’s the right word) to either the Force or Rebels players. For better or worse they are one team that will take time to gel together. What get’s me is the performance in the last 20 mins. Needless penalties, poor decision making and rank bad tackling led to the blowout. Maybe we expect too much for the first season together. I personally would be happy with a mid table finish (not necessarily making the finals) but building for next season.

    • Kokonutcreme

      Good points Richard and Idiot Savant.

      I watched the Rebels v Waratahs match again last night and noticed that while the Rebels went to the break with a healthy lead, it was actually the Tahs that looked more threatening with ball in hand – some of their ball movement from setpieces was quite slick. The Rebels capitalised on opposition errors, which is part of the game, but hadn’t actually created many genuine scoring opportunities themselves.

      Fast forward two weeks against the Hurricanes and it was a similar pattern. The Rebels created a healthy lead of 19-8 at the 30 minute mark, the result of good pressure forcing the Hurricanes to infringe and concede penalties and scoring their only try. Apart from some early carries by Mafi which excited the crowd and commentators, there wasn’t actually much to get excited about from the Rebels on attack.

      This was in stark comparison to the Hurricanes who were regularly creating space for their wings and making midfield busts through their forwards and backs. Watch the first 25 minutes and it was all Hurricanes. Still can’t see the offside that ruled out Barrett’s intercept try. Gardner penalises Aso but the replays show that when Genia passes the ball he’s still a step behind the Hurricanes line inside him that rushed and were onside.

      The Rebels won’t be the only team that will have problems trying to work out how to break down the Hurricanes defence this season. They’re the only team that are in single digits for tries conceded so far.

      Amanaki Mafi’s running attracted a lot of attention from fans and commentators. The most run metres he gained in that first half were actually from his first carry when he had an easy 20 metres returning a kick before he made contact and when he took a quick tap from a scrum penalty.

      I must admit to being confused by match reports claiming the Rebels had the better of the first half for 30 minutes. For all the Hurricanes attacking endeavours, they couldn’t finish off numerous opportunities created and their indiscipline was keeping the Rebels in the game through Debreczeni’s goalkicking but the scoreline was flattering the home team.

      The one try they did score was fair as I believed the ball was knocked straight down however Gardner made a glaring miss on an earlier tackle by Mafi on Beauden Barrett without the ball that resulted in the chasing kick deep inside the Hurricanes 22 that gave them the position to score the try.

      The Rebels were not in this contest to the extent people believe.

      They had far less possession, less time in the opposition 22, fewer line breaks and far more missed tackles. Listening to coach Dave Wessels comments with the Fox commentary team confused me even more when he stated they needed to win more ball as when they had possession they were able to create pressure on the Hurricanes defence.

      He was right that they needed to win more ball, but he was overlooking the number of missed tackles, how much of the advantage line they were conceding to the Hurricanes and their lack of penetration through the Hurricanes defence.

      As you stated Richard – Marika Koroibete their one true strike weapon out wide, barely touched the ball on attack all game.

    • mikado

      Laumape brushed off Mafi with embarrassing ease. Not much good Mafi being a strong carrier if his defence is that bad.

      I agree about Hodge. I like him a lot but he doesn’t seem to master any single position, which makes him a utility player only. I’d play him at 12 but I agree his handling is not quite as good as some.

  • Perth girl

    Plenty of Kiwis in Melbourne then

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