Melbourne Rebels Overcome Brumbies - Green and Gold Rugby
ACT Brumbies

Melbourne Rebels Overcome Brumbies

Remembering another famous Rebels victory
Melbourne Rebels Overcome Brumbies

With their backs to the wall and an injury list as long as your arm, the Melbourne Rebels desperately need a win to restore some pride. The Rebels’ owners made a strong statement this week, could the players also make a strong statement on the park?

Against the bottom team, the Brumbies would have gone into this game sniffing a bonus point win to extend their lead at the top of the Australian conference.

Congratulations, Laurie Weeks – 100 Super Rugby games

First Half

In the first minute of the game the Rebels were awarded an opportunity for three points when Andrew Smith was penalised for a high tackle on Amanaki Mafi. Reece Hodge took the shot at goal but missed to the right of the posts.

Moments later it was the Brumbies with their own opportunity when Chris Alcock won his side a penalty at the ruck. The Brumbies soon earned a second penalty, almost in front, but elected to kick to touch. Sam Carter lost control of the ball in the line out and, after several minutes of sustained pressure near their own line, the Rebels cleared the ball to safety.

Eventually, Hodge secured the first points of the game thanks to a holding on penalty awarded to Mafi. Wharenui Hawera had a chance to equalise a few moments later after Mitch Inman was penalised for advancing in front of the kicker. His shot was wide and the score remained at 3-0.

The first try of the match came in the 13th minute. Marika Koroibete showed some strength and good foot work near the left touchline to stay in field. The Rebels spun the ball across field to Sefa Naivalu on the right wing, a couple of metres inside his own half. Super Sefa hit the after-burners and shrugged off four defenders on his way to the line. Hodge converted the try and extended the Rebels lead to 10-0.

A few moments later the game changed dramatically as Glen Jackson reduced the Rebels to 13 men with a double cheese combo. Colby Fainga’a was given ten minutes off for a lifting tackle against Sam Carter. Lopeti Timani was also sent to the bin to consider his actions after grazing Rory Arnold’s forehead with his shin. Fainga’a’s card may have been somewhat harsh; Timani could be considered lucky his wasn’t a different colour.

The Brumbies tried to set a driving maul from the resultant penalty but another turnover at the line out gave the Rebels a chance to clear.

Right on twenty minutes the Brumbies were able to benefit from their two man advantage. Jarrad Butler found Henry Speight on the right wing as the Rebels ran out of defenders. Speight had no one in front and a clear run to the line. Hawera missed the conversion attempt and the score stayed at 10-5.

Just on the half hour mark the Brumbies were in for their second five pointer, a push-over try to Jarrad Butler. This time Hawera made no mistake and put the visiting side in front 10-12.

Five minutes later a penalty for hands in the ruck allowed the Rebels to regain the lead with another three points, thanks to the boot of Hodge.

After the half time hooter sounded, Glen Jackson awarded Naivalu his second try of the night but was over ruled by the TMO. The replay showed a foot in touch after an excellent cover tackle from winger, Tom Banks.

Super Sefa celebrates the first try of the game

Second half

The Brumbies came out of the sheds firing. A couple of minutes of sustained pressure on the Rebels line ended in a third yellow card for a “cynical infringement” against Fereti Sa’aga trying to get back onside.

From the penalty scrum, Joe Powell found Speight on the blindside who dotted down in the corner for his second try of the night and his team’s third. Hawera’s conversion from the touchline missed but the Brumbies were in front 13-17.

The Brumbies may have had a fourth try soon after. Hawera elected to take on the line, missing an opportunity to pass inside to an unmarked Aidan Toua. Hawera was subsequently turned over and the Rebels escaped what could have been a turning point in the game.

Just inside the hour mark, Sam Carter was penalised for not rolling away. Hodge hammered home the penalty goal from 48 metres out to put the Rebels back within a single point.

Fifteen minutes later, Hodge had a chance to put his team in front with another long range penalty attempt from 51 metres but missed to the right.

With only four minutes left on the clock, Jackson awarded a scrum to the Brumbies for a forward pass. The Rebels pack put in a huge shove to earn a penalty against the feed. This time Hodge made no mistake and the Rebels took the lead, 19-17.

The win was almost sealed moments later with another penalty to the Rebels inside their own half. Electing to take a shot and run down the clock, Hodge failed to kick the ball dead and gave the Brumbies the chance to go the length of the field and steal the win. When the eventual knock-on came to end the game, the Rebels’ players and fans celebrated like they had just won the Championship.

Henry Speight, on the way to the first of his tries


An ugly win is still a win. The Rebels were out scored three tries to one and were on the wrong side of the ledger in most statistics, including having only 39% territory.

On the plus side, the Rebels showed some real grit and determination for eighty minutes to hold the Brumbies out and would be happy with their defensive efforts. In particular, the mid-field and back-row managed to keep the dangerous Brumbies runners in check and slowed down their ball effectively.

Next week the Rebels fly to South Africa to begin their tour of the Republic with games against the Sharks and Kings.


Last week the Brumbies, (aided by some abysmal defence), put 33 unanswered points on their opposition in the second half. In this game they failed to find their rhythm and never seemed to be able to sustain any real momentum. Their attack was disjointed and several times cruelled with errors and poor decisions.

They may be regretting their early plan to kick for touch instead of taking easy points when they were on offer.

Next week it gets tougher for the ACT team. They travel to Napier to take on last year’s champions, the Hurricanes. They then play the Blues at home followed by the bye. They will need a win against at least one of the Kiwi teams if they want to retain their conference lead.

The Game Changer

In a tight game, the forward pass called against Jack Debcreczeni in the 75th minute should have been enough for the Brumbies to close out the game. The dominant Brumbies scrum should have seen them secure the ball for the remaining minutes. Instead, a scrum penalty to the Rebels against the feed gave them the three points they needed for a memorable win.


For the Visitors, Henry Speight had some electric moments, two tries, over 120 run metres and four line breaks are good numbers. Reece Hodge had a very solid defensive game and, in the end, it was his boot that made the difference.

Amanaki Mafi is the Green and Gold man of the Match though. He had the most runs in the game, many of them in heavy traffic, and was a constant menace at the breakdown.

Wallaby Watch

Reece Hodge played a kind of fullback/centre hybrid role and was instrumental in shutting down Tevita Kuridrani. Henry Speight looked dangerous all night. Despite his yellow card brain fade, Lopeti Timani looked the goods at blindside flanker and Chibba Hanson put in another solid performance at hooker.

G&GR MOTM, ‘Naki Mafi

Scores and Scorers

Melbourne Rebels: 19

Tries: S. Naivalu 14″
Conversions: R. Hodge 1
Penalties: R. Hodge 4

ACT Brumbies: 17

Tries: H. Speight 21″, J. Butler 33″, H. Speight 44″
Conversions: W. Hawera 1
Penalties: 0



Cards and Citations

Yellow Cards: C. Fainga’a, L. Timani, F. Sa’aga

  • Tim

    Good game but how the hell did the brumbies not smash them? 3 yellow cards!!! Im happy the rebels have won Timani Fainga and Mafi are outstanding players! will be interesting who doesn’t make the cut when sean returns

    • Mr Wobbly

      Here’s hoping that LT isn’t moved back to lock to accommodate SMac. This is probably the best back row combination we’ve had. I’d expect Sean to go to 7 with Colby to come on as a finisher. Harsh on Colby though, he’s had a cracking season.

  • Simon

    That really throws the conference wide open. Any one of the Aussie teams can lose to another Aussie team if they play badly enough!

    • Tommy Brady

      Bizarre result. Does this make the Rebels amongst the best sides in Australia, or the Brumbies amongst the worst?

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      I like that “if they play badly enough” that’s unfortunately so true.

  • Mr Wobbly

    Footnote: Lopeti Timani has been cited for foul play.

    • Keith Butler

      He was very lucky not to get a straight red. A clear knee to the head that ended with his shin connecting slightly. Reckon he’ll gets at least a couple of weeks. None the less a great performance from the boys. How long before Toby is back because Sa’aga is having a tough time of it. Good learning curve though!

      • Tim

        4 weeks i think is a bit harsh does anyone know what happen to the guy that punched simmons a few weeks ago did he get a similar ban?

  • Missing Link

    Really impressed with Naivalu. He has strength to go with his pace, good tackler, hits rucks. All that you ask for from a winger.

  • Nutta

    Cheers for the write-up.

    My MOTM was Chris Alcock. Mr Perpetual Motion and always gives the ball on in better shape than how he got it.

    I don’t think I have ever seen a team get 3 yellow cards and still win.

    Donkeys – how to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Wow. Just wow.

    Rebs – game, arsey and really gutsy. A proper Grinders win for Laurie Weeks there.

    Timani – the idiocy of the Oz rugby fkd-up chain of command is reinforced by having our current national No8 continually playing 6. Besides that, he was obviously on ugly pills – the knee, the hand to the face, a couple of other cheapies I saw and as for calling the Ref a “fkn pussy” when you are surrounded by cameras, well I was having visions of Dylan Hartley and that final refereed by Wayne Barnes a few years back. Something not quite balanced in Timani’s head that night.

    • Keith Butler

      Better him being somewhere in the back row rather than at lock where he spent the last couple of seasons with the Rebs. I expect he’ll get at least 2 weeks for use off the knee (shin) but could get more. Makes you wonder what Magahan will do when Sean Mc is fit. Maybe he’ll move LT back to lock, wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

      • Nutta

        Part of the Rebs problem for a while now has been having a team chock full of backrowers and not enough tighties. Besides confusing roles and impinging development it makes it hard to establish any dominance in lineout and scrum. It’s not bloody mungo for christsakes. Particularly in the Locks they have needed a proper man-mountain tight-side.

        • Keith Butler

          Have to declare an interest being an ex lock but you’re dead right. I thought that the Rebs had two of the most promising locks in Pyle and Jones with Neville as back up but we know what happened to them. Then they let Alo Emile go and our tight five was pretty much screwed with no back up. Not all doom and gloom. Sa’Aga and Lomax are learning the hard way and things will get better whenever Toby Smith returns. At lock, Cummins looks like he’s stepping up, not sure about Retallick and Toolis and Day are a bit of an unknown quantity but have NH scrum experience which may count for something. Too many 7s in our back row and for all his mongrel, Sean Mc doesn’t have the size of a Fardy.

  • juswal

    On one hand, well done Rebels. On the other hand, this sort of result is one of the big negatives of SR expansion in Oz. The Force and Rebels will turn up and have a crack when they get the chance to knock over the three older Australian teams. The rest of the time they chiefly serve to donate table, bonus and F/A points to teams in the other conferences.

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