Melbourne Rebels win in thriller – Green and Gold Rugby
Melbourne Rebels

Melbourne Rebels win in thriller

Melbourne Rebels win in thriller

The Melbourne Rebels reach the finals with a last minute try.

The equation was pretty simple for the Melbourne Rebels,  win by four points and go to the finals.  Any other result, and go to mad Monday.

Playing against a strong wind in the first half, the winless Force showed from the very beginning they weren’t keen to make any gifts to their bitter rivals.
From the kick-off the boys from the West put pressure on the Rebels, but it was a 22-0 point turnaround either side of the interval that put the match in the balance until the last seconds.

The eventual hero for the Melbourne Rebels was South African Johannes Jacobus Cabous Eloff, prior known only for his pink underwear (see cover photo).

First Half

An early penalty by Melbourne backrower Hardwick gave the first 3 points to the Western Force, Prior easily kicked from in front the sticks.
The Rebels could have hit back quickly but they wasted an easy try opportunity with Michael Wells getting in the way of Matt To’omua’s pass to Tom Pincus, who would have definitely scored in the corner.
At the 18th minute, Wells wasn’t between To’omua and Pincus: the winger coming into the midfield after a 5-meter scrum in front of the Force’s posts collected a cut pass from the Wallabies flyhalf and scored untouched.

Pincus scores the first try of the game

The Western Force hit right back with Taefu collecting a short inside pass by McGregor, cutting in the middle of the Rebels’ defence. Like in last week’s game against the Waratahs, the Rebels showed their vulnerability to quit inside passes in the middle. Prior missed the conversion against the strong breeze.

To’omua scored two penalties in rapid succession to bring the Rebels five points ahead after 25 minutes of play but was Reece Hodge to score the second try.  Playing at outside centre, with the return of Dane Haylett-Petty, Hodge collected an incredible pass from prop Cameron Orr, yes you are reading it correctly, it was a fantastic long pass from the prop!

After just 30 minutes the game was over for James Tuttle, forced to leave the pitch with a hamstring injury. Fijian international Lomani came earlier than forecasted into the game to direct the forwards.

Prop Orr went over the chalk powering through the backs but the try was called back by the TMO due to obstruction.

In the dying minutes of the half, Hardwick was again penalised at the break-down by referee Gardner, with Force declined the easy 3 points and eventually scored with hooker Andrew Ready from a line out push.

Prior missed again the conversion from the sideline and the teams went to the sheds with the Rebels 7 points ahead.

First Half score: Rebels 20 – Force 13

Second Half

Ready scored in a similar fashion from a 5-meter line out 5 minutes into the second stanza and with Prior slotting the conversion the game was squared off at 20 points each with 35 minutes to play.

The Rebels got quickly back into the Force’s red zone, but first Isi Naisarani than Billy Makes were inches short of scoring.

But the Western Force were again on the scoreboard thanks to a penalty kicked by Prior.

At the 55th minute, the Rebels lost winger Pincus yellow carded for slapping a pass with no chances to catch the ball. Minutes later Stander playing his 50th game scored try number 4 for the Force and Prior extended the lead to 10 points.

The Rebels all Green and gold backs Hodge, Koroibete and Haylett-Petty combined straight after for a superb try scored by the fullback.

In a constant twist of fortune, the Force also temporarily lost a winger, Byron Ralston tackling Matt Philip in the air on the restart, but the Rebels weren’t capable to capitalise the numeric superiority.

With seven minutes to play the try that could have given the all-important 4 points lead to the Rebels was disallowed as Hardwick pass to Koroibete was clearly forward.

Lee-Warner committed a cynical foul play 5 meters from his try line and allowed the Rebels to push for a season-saving try.

First, a knock on the try line than Matt Philip being held up denied again the Rebels in an agonising finish.

With two minutes to play the Rebels had a penalty in front of the post, trailing by 3 they choose to go for the scrum instead for the easy penalty that had brought the fame to the extra time.

After Ma’afu was again tacked inches to the try line substitute prop Eloff quick-thinking secured the win. With the hooker celebrating and all other players appealing to Gus Gardner, Eloff grounded the ball over the line clearly. After another interminable TMO/referee conversation the try was awarded to the Rebels. To’omua waited until after the siren to kick the easy conversion and history was made, at last.

Final Score: Rebels 34 – Force 30

The Game Changer

Definitely Ready’s brace was a game-changer for the Western Force, but with the game being decided on the siren by Eloff’s try, the loosened try have to be mentioned as the most important play of the game.


Several players had an impact on the game, both forward packs played with intensity and it is difficult to split between them.
Having to chose one of them, we award the prize to younger lock Trevor Hosea.

Wallaby Watch

Andrew Ready not only scored two tries for his team but was a constant danger at the breakdown both in defence and in attack and to round it up, his line out throws were also mostly straight, a not so common feature in Super Rugby AU.

The Details

Score & Scorers

Rebels 34 (20):

Tries: Pincus, Hodge, Haylett-Petty, Eloff
Conv.: To’omua 4/4
Pen.: To’omua 2/2

Force 30 (13):
Tries: Ready (2), Taefu, Stander
Conv.: Prior 3/4
Pen.: Prior 2/2

Cards & citings

YC:  Pincus 55th, Ralston 60th, Lee-Warner 75th


Decent numbers

  • Bobas

    Tip of the hat to the force. My favourite sky blue team in super rugby.

    • Huw Tindall

      Dark skies with force blue…

  • Timbo

    Pretty sure that last try was given cos the refs didn’t want to have to go through it all again when they call a knock on to the Force.

    Force should have won that. Rebels were lucky.

    • Bobas

      The guy in the pink undies played the whistle, let that be a lesson.

      • Timbo

        It was the knock on by Mafu or whoever was in that mess. The Giant Jarpie was spot on but shouldn’t have gotten there

        • Perth girl

          Yep a knock on in my book too

      • Hoss

        Didn’t the replacement hooker score the try ? The conversion seemed to be taken inside the posts suggesting they awarded him the try? At the ground it seemed liken10 minutes of replays and seems obvious he grounded it – based on what they showed at the ground anyway.

      • indeed!

  • Jason

    I am hart broken the Force lost. The Rebels didn’t deserve to win that, they don’t deserve to play finals after letting the Force compete to that.

    Andrew Ready needs to be in a Wallabies Squad!

    • Huw Tindall

      *Heart but that’s being a pedant.

    • Perth girl

      What do you mean Jason? Do you think the Rebels “let” the Force play that well?

      • Jason

        Yeah, absolutely. The Rebels are one of those teams who always play down to there opposition. Sure the Force really stepped up but you look down the team lists, tell me any position the Force win, heck there’d only be a few positions where the Force even come close to the talent of the Rebels. If the Rebels played half as well as they should we’d have seen a score line closer the the Reds game.

  • Hoss

    Well thanks for nuthin to the team from west somewhere or another.

    How’s that for gratitude! Was it too much to ask for one win – just one?

    You couldn’t muster one win to help the state who kicked you out of the competition to begin with, I think I smell a rat……

    Was at the game. Cracking Hunter day, 25 degrees, blue skies and the pitch was brilliant. Haven’t watched the replay or heard the commentary but it was a strange old game. With 20 to go I turned to my father and said ‘well this will show the Rebels metal’. The Rebs didn’t seem to get out of second gear all match which is very very strange given what was on offer.

    My gut feeling is that the Rebels are worse with Meakes at 12. It’s gotta be Deegan / Two Cows. Naisarani is a weapon, so too Koroibete. But my biggest take away was Phillips must be in gold. His work rate, especially off the ball is epic. His line out terrific and he calls them. He has a great motor and for mine was MOTM by some margin.

    For the Force, whatever their paying Thrush – double it. Without him they are shot ducks. I don’t know that they ‘deserved to win’, but they sure as shit put themselves in a winning position and the fact that they fell short will sit sideways in their throats for a while. They were combative, competitive and had Pryor made two simple conversions, well……..No doubt they will be better in 2021 for their toil and experience that’s IF we let them back in……jury’s out on that one for this hurt Tah’s fan.

    That said – what’s the consensus on the officiating from those who saw it on tv. TMO seemed inconsistent With the two tries with possible obstruction – both looked to be good rugby tries but one sticks and one don’t ???

    Upshot from all this – Rebels are finals cannon fodder.

    • Jason

      Naisarani is a weapon

      He carriers really well, but he’s far too often got very poor body position going into contact and that frequently leads to his team losing possession, or having a hard time at the ruck. If he cut this out of his game or offered more in defence/around the park I’d be more on the Isi train, but he’s too limited and very often wastes his efforts.

      • Huw Tindall

        Wilson > Dempsey > Naisarani IMO

        • Hoppy

          Dempsey??? Before SAMU??? Not really mate. Dempsey’s a good SuperRugby AU player but not a test footballer.

        • Mica

          I was looking for Samu too. I think he and Dempsey are very similar types of players with Samu shading Dempsey on form at the moment. I think Dempsey will be back though and is definitely a classy player.
          I really like Wilson, but I think he needs to another season or two before being test ready. Maybe a bench spot to get him started.

        • Hoppy

          I get where you are coming from but I think more to be gained by not persisting with Dempsey – just don’t think he will ever be a strong or enduring test prospect. I also think Wilson is already there in terms of his defensive effectiveness and his attack support and running lines – pick him off the bench to ease him in and get him used to the rise in speed and intensity at test level. Like Wright and McReight, he relishes the challenge and they all seem to respond and excel in short order. Looking forward to the REDS v Rebels matchup next weekend- could easily be a banana skin for the Reds but also an opportunity to show their growing maturity.

        • Jason

          I think that’s actually the point of difference between Wilson and the other 8’s we have going around he’s not got a significant weakness. He defends very well for a ball carrying 8, You *can* throw to him in a lineout if you need, he’s very good running the ball, his support play is excellent. Maybe his offloads aren’t quite as good, and he is learning to hold the ball at the base of the scrum better (to be fair just holding on to that Reds scrum is impressive).

          Where as Samu isn’t as good ball in hand, Isi doesn’t defend well and has his issues going into contact, and doesn’t jump in the lineout, etc. Wilson is I think is closer to a compete player than the other options — and no one was expecting him to be this season — sure in a few seasons but both he and McReight have absolutely blown everyone away with there skill and ability.

        • Hoppy

          Wright as well as McReight and WIlson – great trio and all leaders

        • Jason

          Why, his numbers show he’s the best 8 in the comp. His form has cooled down a bit — more the Reds are doing a better job of sharing that load, but at no point has he been ‘bad’, his floor is an awesome test reserve.

        • Hoppy

          100% agree with both of you on WIlson

        • Mica

          He’s a very different 8 to Samu and both are really good at what they bring as a number 8. Samu is Kieran Read like, where Wilson is more Billy V or Duane V like. The thing that particularly impresses me about Wilson is that he has great hands both catching and passing. He has been really good at getting in between players and popping a really good soft hands pass and also hitting a good line/angle to get through the line. He could be really special if he can stay injury free. We certainly have been missing a great number 8 since probably T Kefu

        • Huw Tindall

          Controversial but I feel Samu tends to go missing for periods of a game a bit like Pali did back in the day. He’s got serious skills and will make the highlight reel but that may not appear to be enough.

        • Hoppy

          SAMU has been hitting his straps lately and his last 2 games have been top drawer so perhaps he has found the key to being switched on all the time. Wilson already does that at a consistently excellent level but Dempsey doesn’t – he’s a highlights reel candidate for sure but inconsistent and I just don’t get him at test level – same for Hannigan.

        • Jason

          Yeah, I’m not sure all the love Dempsey gets. he’s good but inconsistent.

    • Frosty morning

      To’omua showed just how important a reliable goal kicker is. And I’d never really noticed Ready before, but I thought he had a cracker. As did Phillip. And I’ve never liked Naisarani, not since he took a dive pretending that little garden gnome Matt Lucas had knocked him over, but I’m glad that I will never have to tackle him.

      • Frosty morning

        Also, can someone just smack Lomani? That jersey grabbing and anus poking he does at every scrum becomes very tiresome.

        • Timbo

          agreed. I was hoping Gus would ping him for being a prat

        • Missing Link

          I felt physically violated watching it on the TV

      • Hoss

        G’day Frosty,

        Rebels looked like the occasion had frozen them. I’d have to watch it on the tube to get a better feel but at the ground it seemed they didn’t go route 1 often they went to lateral all day. If your going forward that’s fine but Meakes is a devout catholic- he simply won’t promote the pill and play stopped dead around his channel. If it wasn’t for ISI they didn’t have great go forward at all – credit to the Force they were terrific and really aimed up in D. Thrush is just brilliant and lead them through his actions. At one stage in mid first half I thought it was going to get ugly for the Force then the rebels put the cue on the rack a bit and it was nearly goodnight nurse.

        They have the talent the Rebs, don’t know that they’ve got the minerals though – upstairs at least.

      • Huw Tindall

        If Ready had managed to stay off the nose beers he could have a Dane Coles style player.

    • Keith Butler

      Seriously thought the Rebs were going to blow it in the second half. Panic play with plenty of pushed passes and a poor kicking game. Got there in the end though. After indifferent games against the Tahs and the Force it would be just our luck to turn over the Reds.

      • Hoss

        They’ve got a ticket to the dance now mate so anything’s possible.

    • mortlucky

      Angus was infuriating but the Rebels were their own worst enemy (particularly those telegraphed pick and gos) and couldn’t have complained if they’d lost. I felt a disconnect between the forwards and backs (particularly those telegraphed pick and gos) and was waiting for Two Cows to control things a bit more. Credit to the Force though.

      • Hoss

        Gus hasn’t had the best year and probably needs to stamp his authority early. Force seemed to have edged the Rebs at scrums but got little pay for it with the ref.

        • Angus was brilliant, as was the TMO.
          They accepted our request on how to ref, in retaliation for something.against the Tahs. Cant remember what is was now, but it was important from memory.
          Hopefully this settles the score…whatever it was.

        • Mica

          Couldn’t have mustered a better comment to match your moniker HO!! :) Love it!

  • mortlucky

    My god the intentional knock down rule shits me. The world was a better place when we looked at palms up or down.

    • Bobas

      Rulings on intent are shockers.
      An onside player should be able to play the ball.

      • Brisneyland Local

        Agree 100%

      • formerflanker

        Yep. Everything else is a contest in rugby, so why not this area too!

    • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

      I like the current way it is ruled. You just cannot knock the ball upwards or downwards, it needs to be a realistic intercept. Do not like the card. I also think the next card is harsh as he had his eye on the ball and run into the pod. Under previous interpretation it would not be a yellow but under existing laws it is. The is no excuse for both players, especially Pincus who is an Australian 7s player, you need to adapt to the way the laws are interpreted.

      • mortlucky

        The game suffers from too much ‘fuzzy law’. (Did someone say ELVs?)

        • Lineouts do have their own law specially for them. Law 18: Touch, quick throw and lineout. A variation to the intentional knock-on law given they’re assumed to be trying to knock it back on to their side but in competition with some other jumper and at full extension is not unreasonable…

          Judging intent and a ball that goes up and sideways so you can’t quite catch it and a ball that goes up nicely off your hand so you can seems rough to me.

          There are clearly times when a player stretches out a hand, makes no attempt to knock it up so they could touch it. I have no problem with that being a penalty, and if it’s a clear overlap, a YC even. If it loops gently up in the air, and lands within 2-3 metres of the player, it feels harsh to say “no realistic chance of catching it” though.

        • Mica

          The one that really annoys me is the one where it gets knocked down in action of completing the tackle. If the attacker is trying to get a quick pass in before the tackler makes contact and the tackler connects with the ball. I hate these yellows because a tackler should have his arms out as they are going into the tackle since this is the correct technique to wrap the tackled player. Seems to me like you are penalising a tackler for trying to tackle before the attacking player can pass or is in the motion of passing.

        • I definitely feel that. When I see it refereed by a good a referee they have a little checklist, that you see talked through between them and the TMO.

          Could the player see the ball? If their head is on the wrong side of the player to see the ball, it’s always accidental.

          If they could see the ball, did their arm keep swinging in a smooth motion? If so, it’s accidental. If they adjusted the swing to hit the ball, then they look at a penalty, and then a YC if that would follow on normally.

          I find I don’t mind that. They look at it, and say “Do we think this is really a case where it’s a tackle and, in effect, the ball played the arm making the tackle?” If we say yes, then it’s just a scrum. If we think the tackler could see the ball and deliberately played at, then it’s deliberate knock on, and you get the normal consequences.

          Of course, that’s when you get a good referee… all too often that’s not the case. I would say one Aussie has impressed me this season, she’s one from one for good games. A couple of Kiwis and three of the Gallagher Premiership refs. Surprisingly, although I still don’t think he’s great as a TMO, Ben O’Keefe is becoming one of my favourites on the field. He balances out that good eye that makes him an infuriating TMO with a decent sense of the state of the game and he seems to blow for the right things, rather than every niggly little thing.

        • Mica

          That process sounds good to me. Just wish that all refs applied it consistently!

        • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

          If you take the risk to juggling the ball then you need to catch it, if not then a penalty is appropriate. I like the ELVs as they were implemented at Stellenbosch University. It surely made the games far more attractive to watch and safer to play,

  • Tim

    Was an exciting game but really annoying last 20 minutes. Amount of scrums that had to be reset was frustrating. Rebels were lucky to get back into the game and win well played. Hosea played insane and so did hardwick. After watching the reds Rebels should get spanked.

  • I try not to lay into the refs too much, but all I can say is that I’m glad his poor calls didn’t affect the outcome in the end.

    I wasn’t even sure it was a penalty, but he found a YC for an intentional knock on and no cover. He also missed a penalty try to the Rebels. While Lance is entitled to enter the ruck from there – no offside line in goal – he still has to enter it legally and not attempt to bring it down. Not dive in like a bowling ball, back first at the legs rather than attempting to bind with the arms.

    The Rebels looked nervous, the Force looked up for it, and Gardner looked way out of his depth. But it conspired to make an enthralling game of rugby. Unless they relax, having got over that milestone, they’re goners next week, and the later match is a preview of the grand final…

    • Not a maul once it crosses the line I thought. Haven’t reffed for a few years so happy to be corrected.

      • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

        Agree, Eloise once the mall is across the try line, Lance can dive on the ball, tackle etc and even join for an offside position.

      • You’re right, 16.16c, once the ball is over the try line, the maul ends.

        Prior to that, once the back foot of the crosses the try line, the offside line becomes the try line (16.4)

        I knew 16.4 but not that the maul ended. Oh well, I take it back.

  • donktec

    Well, i ‘m glad the Rebels won, though they seemed scattered enough to almost find a way to lose it. Matt T held them together – just – along with a few others. With all the TMO’ing it was hard to watch along with a few .. odd… decisions had the tension (or just frustration) levels high. Can’t help thinking that a Force win would have been better for the game. They get a feel good win and a Tah’s vs Reds game would seem to offer more next week. Can’t see the Rebels getting it together and the Reds look like they mean business now. Time will tell – stay tuned for another episode next week!

    • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

      It depends on which of the two Rebels team turns up. They tend to be good or horrible. Reds look good at home.

  • Brisneyland Local

    Well GAGR’s that game was certainly hard to watch. But here are my randomthoughts whilst shaving:
    – A loss for the Waratahs is good for rugby, and that win for the Rebs for exactly that ;-)
    – Gardener had a shocker and the TMO was too inconsistent. PLus there were at least 2 neck rolls I saw in that game and nothing was done by Angus or the TMO.
    – Bring Back Amy.
    – Rebels almost choked. I would have loved to have seen a heart monitor on Wessell’s during that second half.
    – Ready looked really good. His chance for redemption.
    – The Force showed shit loads of spirit in difficult considtions. Gee that wind really affected the game.
    – Jono Lance charged down 3 times. You think he would have gotten the message.
    – Two Cows kicking off the tee was magic.
    Congrats to the Rebs, and thank you very much to Twiggy and the Force for coming to play. Next year you will be more competitive and I hope to see you thrash the Tahs.
    Over to you GAGR’s.

    • Hoss

      Two-cows stayed out for kicking practise long after the side went back into the change rooms pre match and it showed. He hit them sweetly all game. Pryor hit em like my wedge – shanked, fat and ugly. Rebs were better with Deegan and Two—Cows together

      • Brisneyland Local

        Yep agree. I think Two Cows would have to be the Wallabies kicker. With JOC in back up.

      • idiot savant

        I think what really hurt the Rebels was Tuttle going off. It was back to slow as a wet week ball from Lomani. I thought the Rebs lacked attacking shape last week with Deegan at 10 but it might just have been Lomani. But you make as good point about Meakes. He is not a distributor and the classy outside backs dont get enough opportunity. Its taken Wessells a long time to see this but then he’s a Jarpie and they think centres are just for tackling and crash balling.

    • 1 charge down I can accept..

      • Brisneyland Local

        Yep but three. something is wrong.

    • Keith Butler

      Only made the second half but heart was proverbially in the mouth in the last10 mins. If Wessels picks Meakes and Hodge at 12 and 13 then were are screwed. Deegan and Toomua for me next week at 10 and 12. Not that it will make much difference as the Reds are building a three quarter line to match their pack. Still not sure about Tupou’s scrum technique. Seems to have his feet too far back so that when any pressure comes on he goes flat on his face and the loosie gets penalised for hinging. Mind you Sio not the greatest of scrummagers this year and at times it looked like his elbow was pulling down so it’s six of one and half a dozen of the other.

      • Brisneyland Local

        I think Tupo’s technique will get scrutinised. BUt he is as srong as fuck and I dont think any of his opposition numbers will be able to cope with that immense pressure.

        • Mica

          Agreed – then to make it better he has Blythe and Wright behind him. All I can say is good look opposition LHs!!!!

  • Hannes En Brianda Barnard

    Got ourselves in a winning position and then let them in the last 25 min. Lack of depth and giving away two YCs cost us the game. Our bench is just not good enough. Proud of the way the Force stepped up, next year when we can also get a few home games and can recruit players that can make the Wallabies we will surprise many.

  • Mica

    Well said! They certainly gave a couple of games a good shake. Some good players coming through for the Rebels to snap up too………sorry couldn’t resist poking the bear!! ;)

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Diego Ghirardi is a rugby fanatic from Italy, living in Melbourne. Played on the wing, now mainly couch flanker or sideline halfback. Enjoys writing in broken English, which should be read in a Franco Cozzo accent to render it more original. In case you understand Italian, you can read his banters on or better not

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