Rebels break Aussie drought in Dunedin - Green and Gold Rugby
Melbourne Rebels

Rebels break Aussie drought in Dunedin

Rebels break Aussie drought in Dunedin

The Melbourne Rebels hung on for a historic win, beating the Highlanders 28 – 22.

The Melbourne  Rebels travelled to Dunedin for a must-win clash for both sides who only had one win each for the season.

First Half

For the first time this season ,the Rebels hit the ground running and jumped out of the box with rapid speed. Dominating from the first whistle it only took till the 8th minute before the Rebels were able to convert pressure into points when Billy Meakes bullied his way over the Highlanders line. A few minutes later Rangi added to the scoreboard with a nice try from a lineout drive.

The Highlander were trying hard to work there way into the game, in there first real extended period with the ball they were starting to look dangerous until Kellaway pounced on a loose ball and took off down the field for his first try of the night. twenty-one minutes down and the Rebels had scored a point a minute.

It did not take long before the Highlanders struck back with McKay scoring from a well-worked move.

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Billy Meakes in for a try

In the 29th minute with the Rebels hot on attack the referee bought play to a stop as the Highlanders captain James Lentjes had a serious leg injury after being cleaned out of a ruck.  While I for one think the ref was completely right to stop the game, I was worried that this extended stoppage was going to be just what the Highlanders needed to get back into the game. Just before half time, the Highlanders crossed again as Aaron Smith finished off some slick passing and closed the gap to 7 points going into the break.

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The lead Referee, known as Aaron Smith, scored just before half time.

Second Half

The Highlanders came out firing in the second half and were applying a lot of pressure on the Rebels defence, trying to find a way to break the very impressive Rebels defence line.  Try as they might, they weren’t having much luck.

In the 52nd minute, the Highlanders were looking to attack off a scrum in the Rebels half when Andrew Kellaway intercepted the ball and ran away for a try at the other end of the pitch.  His second two-try haul of the year for the Rebels coming at the right time, extending the Rebels lead to 14 points, giving them a little bit of breathing space.

In the 63rd minute, the Highlanders hit back with debut winger Scott Gregory scoring out wide to narrow the Rebels lead to 9 points.  His debut went a little downhill 2 minutes later when he miss-timed an attempted take of a high ball and took DHP out in the air dangerously and received a yellow card for his troubles.

The Rebels could not take advantage of the extra man and were under extreme pressure close to there goal line when Billy Meakes received a yellow for offside.  It was more a card for repeated infringements in the red zone by the Rebels, so Billy can feel a little hard done by.  Both teams battled away at each other and the Highlanders applied immense pressure on the Rebels defence for the remainder on the game.

Two Men who had a top game; Rangi, and Phillip

THrough some real defensive grit, the Rebels managed to hold strong and not leak the try we are accustomed to seeing in this type of tight game. Next time, please take the easy 3 points instead of going to the corner though.

I honestly thought that call was going to cost us the game.  But it didn’t.  The REbels yet again tick off another milestone; their first win in Dunedin and the first by an Aussie team at this ground since the Force won in 2014.

The Game Changer
Hard to decide what really changed this game.  I think it was swinging backwards and forwards and the Highlanders looked like they were going to come back and win right up until the final whistle. I guess I will pick Kellaways second try, was against the run of play as the Highlanders had been in control in the second half and were applying a lot of pressure in the Rebels half.

The G&GR MOTM Could give it to anyone from 1-15 this week, but my pick has to be Matt Toomua in the number 10 jersey.  He controlled the game and made some really important tackles in defence. Forming a good partnership with Louwrens and was the missing link last week in the loss to the Sharks. Louwrens and Toomua have started together 2 times for 2 wins.  Lets hope they can make it three in a row next week against a wounded Lions team.

Wallaby Watch
Well, where do I start?  Matt Phillip was the best forward of the night, made 10 tackles with no missed tackles, was a menace at the line out, a couple of small errors during the game but really is doing a lot of work out there and leading the forward pack for the Rebels. Isi Naisarani was good with 10 runs for 37 meters and 9 tackles. Probably most important for the Rebels/Wallabies is Richard ‘Dickie’ Hardwick managing to string some games together, making a real nuisance of himself around the park and starting to find the form that saw capped back in 2017.

Is Ryan Louwrens wallaby eligible? Well, I hope so. the Rebels scrumhalf has really made the jersey his own in the last few weeks and has to be the form 9 in the conference at the moment. His partnership with Toomua looks to be building nicely and the 9/10 Combo might be the deciding factor in Wallabies selections this year.

Marika Koroibete was quiet on one wing, while Andrew Kellaway stole the show on the other, 7 runs for a whopping 157 meters, 2 clean breaks and 4 defenders beaten all topped off by 2 meat pies. The wing who managed to be in the right place at the right time and showed he would not be caught.

The Details

Score & Scorers

Highlanders: 22 (14)
Tries: McKay, Smith, Gregory
Conversions: Ioane 2
Penalties:  Ioane

Rebels: 28 (21)
Tries: Meakes, Rangi, Kellaway 2
Conversions: Toomua 4


Gregory (Yellow) 65th Minute

Meakes (Yellow)68th Minute

Nareki (Yellow) 78th Minute

  • skip

    It was good to see them show up with a plan that had some brains behind it and then be able to stick pretty well to it even when the clan came back at them.

    God what a horror injury that was. One of the very few times I’ve had to step away from the TV, the poor bugger.

    • Steve

      Have done the fracture/dislocation of the ankle before.

      Can confirm there are better ways to spend an afternoon.

    • Huw Tindall

      Did something similar to effectively end my playing days. The snap sounded like a gun shot. Recovered fine but a year later was working and so took that as an excuse not to do another pre season.

      • Keith Butler

        I know what you mean Huw. I remember a game many years ago when one of our centres broke his tibia, a clean break. Even though there was big noisy crowd it was indeed like a gun going off. It was like everyone heard it and the silence afterwards was really eerie.

  • Patrick

    I’m feeling much better about Wessels now. Talk about a shot in the arm!

  • Patrick

    And isn’t it great to have two Australian teams in a row playing intense defensive pressure games!

    • Huw Tindall

      Yeah Tahs surprised with line speed hey? Haven’t seen that from them for years. Copped a couple of off side penalties but will take that when putting the opposition under so much pressure.

  • Well I said yesterday that I thought it was impossible to predict because both these sides are a bit like France of yore and you don’t know which team is going to show up.

    I think, for both of them, both the good and the bad showed up in the same match! Ultimately the Rebels, to be really reductive, because the ‘Landers couldn’t get their line out working. There were other things too, sure, but I can’t help feeling that if the Highlanders had had a working line out, they’d have scored at least once more and that would have been the match.

    Of course, it’s always easy to argue what ifs until the cows come home and the Rebels missed plenty of chance for various reasons too but the line outs just seemed like a consistent issue to me.

    However, on the bright side, the Rebels were good enough to score the points and to defend well enough to win in Dunedin for the first time. In five years time, hardly anyone will remember how, they’ll just remember that stat.

  • Jcr

    Not wanting to sound like corona flu but , absolutely chuffed the rabble won but ,to me Louwrens spent a fair bit of time not clearing the ball , his core role, and whilst Toomua played really well, he played as one of the slowest 1/st 5 Ive ever seen . He ran great lines ,passed and D was excellent but he is to slow to be an international 1st 5, even for the Wobblies.

  • paul

    Just speculation but all 3 Aussie wins coming from fast starts, up 20 points by the 30 min approx.
    Is that an expectation from the opposition of a win, to big a hill by the time they realize the games started. By contrast the Aussie teams were all fired up.
    Interesting to see how that plays out over the next few weeks.

    • Geoffro

      Nothing new really,Too many times seen Aussie teams sprint out of the blocks only to be unable to go on with it especially against Kiwi sides.Well done to the Rebs for hanging tough and Tahs against the Lions who are (or at least were) very good at chasing teams down

  • Brumby Runner

    Some thoughts:

    Highlanders non-try from the 5m scrum – Smith picks the ball up at the back. No 8 breaks from the scrum in front of Smith and takes the pass from Smith in an off side position. Surely a penalty straight away. Never on side and a deliberate forward pass to an off side player. Had no real influence on the outcome because the Rebels won a penalty at the scrum, but imo another shocker of a decision by the ref.

    Rebels defense out the back was very poor on occasions and led directly to one or two tries to the Highlanders.

    DHP was excellent in the air, but very poor otherwise.

    Rebels scrum and maul showing improvement.

    • Bobas

      DHP had two terrible kicks pull up magically before game changing scrums. He’s solid and excellent under the high ball, but without Cheika I can’t see him first choice fullback in the wallabies unless he improves his tactical kicking.

      • Patrick

        Let’s face it we all saw and still Banks in that role, with the sole exception of Cheika, Chieka’s mum, Beale’s mum and half-a-dozen blue-tinted commenters here.

        • Hoss

          Tom who ?

        • Patrick

          Yes sorry, and of course Beale’s dad

      • OnTheBurst

        Yes DHP’s kicking was not great. Doesn’t seem to get much distance when going for touch either

  • Hoss

    Well played Rebs. Great line speed on D, intent in the tackles, MT looked composed on attack, shit even Zoolander looked good. I am still simmering about the decision against Marika in first half when he sprints 70, makes dominant tackle, makes clear release, comes back round through the gate, wins the ball and then gets pinged. That was -7 to Rebs, then from ensuring penalty Landers score – a 14 point swing and momentum the Landers got / had they didn’t deserve.

    Still a good performance from the Rebs and surely now a template and a benchmark to grow from.

    • Keith Butler

      Keep taking the happy pills mate. Just need the Reds to complete the trifecta..

    • OnTheBurst

      Yep. Marika Waz Robbed.

  • formerflanker

    I enjoyed the clever running lines by Kellaway on his long distance tries. Each time a slightly faster player seemed to be gaining on him and he avoided the tackle by angling a bit, causing the chaser to cover more ground.
    He’ll be putting those efforts onto the pool room wall.

    • Geoffro

      Good to watch though I think he may be deceptively faster than appeared, looking over his shoulder at the chaser he didn’t really seem concerned

  • numpty

    Great game – captains knock from the exp. boys in the 23 – Toomua, DHP, Meakes. Rangi was in everything. For mine, Louwrens was poor – the ref should never have to hurry a 9 to clear the ball from a ruck. Toomua’s kicking and game mgmt was superb.

    Conspiracy theory here, but I’m beginning to notice a consistent theme across Aus SR sides of better forward/back interplay, more offloads and bodies in motion. Is Rennie (+ assistants) getting in the ear of SR coaches for a certain style of play? Also seeing a bit more rush D and active attempts to strip ball in tackle.

    • IIPA

      Yeah I’d also temper the Louwrens hype. Some of his choices to box kick from around the halfway line netting a 10m gain but giving Highlanders possession in an unstructured situation could have really bit the Rebels on the arse. Brought back the worst of Phipps/White/Genia.

      Rebs one due to enthusiasm, a better lineout and scrum, great shifts by Philip, Rangi, Isi, Cottrell and two pieces of fantastic opportunism by Kellaway. Not sure I’m anointing Toomua/Louwrens as my Wallabies 9/10 just yet though Toomua is a safe option and Louwrens admittedly made the Tahs look hopeless with his blindside smiles.

      • OnTheBurst

        If we are talking 9/10 combos for Wallabies (hypothetically – it’s still too early obviously) you’d have to go Powell and Lolesio on consistent form

    • Kevino

      See I disagree with Louwrens being too slow, I think it was tactics against a kiwi side. They like everything to be played at a fast pace and most teams try beat them at there own game. Highlanders struggled when everything was played slow with few moments of high tempo. They failed to adjust to the Rebels slowing everything down and than having super fast line speed in defense.

  • TouchFinderGeneral

    Thanks KevinO. To offer some yin to your yang – it’s Wallabies/Munster/Tahs for me.

    Does anyone else think this is getting a bit dull? Can’t remember the last time a Kiwi side beat one of the chosen.

    • Kevino

      My Grandfather player for Munster, his brother played for Munster and Ireland. I was not given a choice by my dad who I support.

      • TouchFinderGeneral

        Hats off sir – that is some pedigree! My youngest is Munster born, & I’m as long in Munster as I was in Sydney.

  • Nutta

    Well where have that mob of Scum been hiding?
    * There wasn’t really a turning point in the match – the Rebs came out and took the game and just didn’t let it go (although it did get shaky).
    * Kellaway – on top of some disarmingly honest self-reflection in the paper the other day the guys stocks keep climbing for me.
    * If Mat Phillips isn’t a Wobbly it’s a fix
    * Isi N is really turning into something grand

    My MOTM was Rangi. What that guy still has to prove to get a Wobbly2 leaves me scratching my head.

    So they have shown they can do it. The question now is consistency…

  • Mica

    Thought the new lad Koegelenberg played well and looks a prospect.
    Scrum looked really strong with both he and Philip locking it.
    I will be looking out for him in future games.

Melbourne Rebels

Irish born Melbournian who loves all things Rugby so really grew up in the wrong city. Munster, Rebels, Ireland, B&I Lions.

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