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.
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.
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.
The G&GR MOTM
Scoring four tries I couldn’t go past Hurricanes winger Ben Lam.
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
Tries: Ben Lam 4, Gareth Evans, Beauden Barrett, Ngani Laumape
Conversions: Beauden Barrett 3/5, Ihaia West 0/2
Penalties: Beauden Barrett 3/3
Tries: Matt Philip
Conversions: Jack Debreczeni 1/1
Penalties: Jack Debreczeni 4/4
Cards and Citings
Rebels – Billy Meakes – 66th minute – repeated infringements