Rebels dominate the Tahs in Sydney – Green and Gold Rugby
Melbourne Rebels

Rebels dominate the Tahs in Sydney

Rebels dominate the Tahs in Sydney

The Melbourne Rebels go 2 from 2 against the Waratahs in 2020 with an impressive 29 – 10 victory.

The men from Melbourne continued the Covid-19 caused road trip with a visit to the SCG to take on a spluttering Waratahs team who they hadn’t beaten in 4 years away from home.

The Waratah faithful had high hopes for an outfit who narrowly lost to the Brumbies last round.  Sadly, that Waratahs didn’t turn up tonight.  On the back of a dominant Forward pack, the Rebels scored two converted trys and 19 points off the boot of Matt To’omua.

The Rebels retain the Weary Dunlop Shield

It was the biggest winning margin over the Waratahs on record, as well as the biggest winning margin of Super Rugby AU 2020 and in the process, the visitors also retain the Weary Dunlop Shield.


First Half

The first half was a seesaw affair with both sides scoring a try apiece. The Rebels took an early advantage at half time thanks to some poor Waratah discipline. The Rebels were showing their attacking game plan, repeatedly probing down the blindside which almost resulted in a quick try.  Early discipline issues were gratefully converted by To’omua, giving the Rebels an early lead.

Despite making headway in the narrow channels, a well-read intercept by Alex Newsome swung the momentum back to the NSW giving them a slender lead 7 – 6.  The half settled into an end to end contest, with both teams showing good intent, but lacking in execution. No doubt the coaches would be pulling their hair out in frustration.  The continual breakdown indiscretions by the Waratahs resulted in Michael Hooper being sent to the bin, giving the Rebels the perfect opportunity to pile on the pressure.

The Rebels celebrate an important try to Ryan Louwrens.

After repeated phases in the Waratahs Red Zone, the Rebels finally converting with Ryan Louwens crashing through his opposite number to get the visitor’s first try.  Matt To’omua capped an assured half easily slotting the conversation as the Rebels hit the sheds 19-10.


Second Half

Both teams lost their captains early. Dane Haylett-Petty not returning the field after the break, and Rob Simmons leaving the field after only 5 minutes meant reshuffling the deck.

The one thing that stayed the same was the foul play leading to a stop-start affair. The Rebels were far more composed and confident,  executing multiple 7+ phase raids on the Waratah try line. The Waratahs scrambling defence managed to keep the enemy at bay, much to the frustration of Melbourne’s fans.

Marika Koroibete was busy all over the field trying to impose himself on the game, but neither team could convert control into points.

After repeated warnings, the Waratahs earned themselves another yellow card.  This time it was Jed Holloway, who had only been on the field for 45 seconds, who saw cheese from Angus Gardiner.

In the last 10 minutes of play, the Rebels were guilty of wasting possession with too many kicks.  It almost cost them a try, Will Harrison finding a gap through tiring Rebels players. Somehow, the Rebels managed to hang on and win back possession.

Marika Koroibete celebrates his 50th cap in style.

Nearing full-time, the Rebels pushed deep into the Waratahs 22, setting up good field position for one last attack.  From the back of a ruck, Koroibete found space and danced through the flagging Waratahs backline, barging through defenders to crash over for a deserved try. A fitting end to his 50th game as a Rebel.

Final scores: Rebels 29, Waratahs 10.


The Game Changer

Matt To’mua had a controlled match, some probing runs and guiding his team around the park.  But the game-changer was really the Waratahs poor discipline, they conceded 16 penalties in all, often infringing and relieving the pressure.


The young Rebel Wallabies; Uelese and Hosea both had outstanding matches.  Marika Koroibete was a constant nuisance but the prize goes to Matt To’omua for his steady hand on the tiller.

Wallaby Watch

Michael Hooper was his combative self but got pinged too often, as mentioned To’omua and Koroibete had stellar games but the future of Wallabies forward stocks look promising with a number of young Rebels putting their hands up as future stars.

The Details

Score & Scorers

Rebels 29
Trys: Louwrens, Koroibete
Conversions: To’omua (2)
Penalty: To’omua (5)

Waratahs 10
Tries: Newsome
Conversions: Harisson
Penalty: Harisson


Hooper, Holloway (Waratahs) -Yellow



  • Adrian

    I followed the game live via a blog.
    I decided not to watch it later.
    Nothing more to be said

    • Brisneyland Local

      You saved your self some serious pain there my friend.

  • God, that was a mess.

    One thing to be said – the Tahs defence which has looked if not impregnable at least solid, was picked up with ease by the Rebels, leaving them to scramble like crazy. And it didn’t look like just one play either, it wasn’t like it was always double runners down the 12 channel or something. They attacked several channels in several ways and went through the middle, around the end and broke the line more or less at will in the second half… Someone in their analysis and attack coaching team needs a raise.

    • Max Graham

      I don’t think anyone on the Rebels’ coaching team needs a raise. They are playing the same, ugly, grafting style that Wessels bored the world with at the Force. They got the win, but that’s not all that matters.

      • That may be true. But the way they unlocked that defence so regularly was still pretty impressive IMO.

    • idiot savant

      Yet the rebels struggled to score tries with a mountain of possession. So the Tahs defence was doing something right. I thought the Tahs rush was ridiculous. They were offside for about 10 consecutive phases at one point. As Karl pointed out Gardiner appeared to give up on some infractions otherwise it would have been a penalty fest.

      • As I said in the OP, their scramble defence was great. But if you’re relying on that the opposition have unpicked your main line, which takes analysis. That’s the point I made.

        It would have been interesting to see what happened if Gardner kept blowing for offside. He should really. But their line rarely looked dog-legged. Mostly they were all offside and still not closing the attack down.

  • Pedro

    Not scoring a single point in the second half makes it hard to win rugby matches. The tahs couldn’t find a way into this match, if you take away their intercept try against the run of play it looks even worse.

    In tricky handling conditions the tahs missed a trick when they failed to turn their seemingly dominant scrum into more than a few points.

    The rebels were rewarded for their patience in attack when the tahs racked up penalties that were at once lazy and methodical.

  • Brisneyland Local

    Morning GAGR’s! Some would say that a loss for the Tah’s is good for rugby. But gee this is becoming a really bad trend.
    My random thoughts whilst waiting for the kids to get ready for saturday morning sport:
    – On the positive the Tah’s defence was a serious nothc up on the last few weeks.
    – The Tah’s discipline was horrible. Michael Hooper well clear on the most cheesed interantional player in history.
    – The Rebels forwards were great. Good in the scrum and great and clinical in the break down.
    – Lots of Reb’s players up for mention; Two Cows, Marika K, Fa-auamausili, Ulese all had very good games.
    – I thought Angus Gardner had a good game. He was clearly commmunicating with both teams. One listened!
    – The multi-phase attack from the Rebs was great to watch, very flat at time like the Rebs from ’19.
    – You know what, I think someone must have showed the Fuxsports team the GAGR article about them because their commentary style is evolving. Phil Kearns was still painful to listen to, but wasnt a total dick. The power of the press hey!
    Over to you GAGR’s

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      Hey mate. Got to say I don’t miss getting up for kids sport and appreciating the lie in. I though Gardner struggled but only because he was trying to let the game flow and there were so many dumb infractions he was caught between letting ones that didn’t matter so much go and then having to call the same infraction when it did have an impact. Both sides were playing dumb rugby at times but the Tahs just never seemed to work together as a team

      • Brisneyland Local

        Yeah they were struggling. That is for sure

    • Yowie

      Some would say that a loss for the Tah’s is good for rugby.

      Some just enjoy it for its own sake (#Tahdenfreude)

      • Brisneyland Local

        Pure gold Yowie

  • Scott Rea

    Thanks for the article Mickey. The first half was average by both teams. I thought the Rebels were much better in the second half. Effectively the Rebels bashed the Waratahs into submission by running the ball at them so often.

    The only times the Waratahs looked like scoring in the first half was from the intercept and from a poor box kick by Louwrens and they didn’t have much ball in the second half.

    Given the times the Rebels have surrendered a half time lead against the Waratahs I was happy with the second half and result.

  • Hoss

    Last week I bemoaned the up and down nature of the Tah’s form so far this year.

    The positive from last night was at least they were consistent. From kick off till full time very, very, very consistent.

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      Something not right in a team that plays that poorly. They seem to lack the team essence and play like a group of individuals rather than as a team.

    • idiot savant

      Consistent inconsistency is what you’re going to get from a young side. As John Prine (RIP) said ‘Thats the way the world goes round, sometimes youre up sometimes youre down’. That will continue for a while. I think part of the disappointment is a reflection of just how good the Tahs have been since the break. They’ve been further ‘up’ than anyone expected. This was a good lesson for Harrison inparticular. Its probably his most ordinary game so far and he will have learnt from watching Toomua flatten up in the greasy conditions, something Harrison hasn’t shown much inclination to do. He likes to stand deep. On the positive side, it was only one try a piece after 70 minutes, so the Tahs were in it even though their impetuousness cruelled their chances of winning.

  • Timbo

    That was unadulterated, first class dog shit.

    Tahs not adapting to Gardiner’s picking of the laws he’d enforce was half the problem.

    Weren’t many positives for the home team. The new nuggetty hooker, hooper getting some turnovers, big Jed returning, and then leaving.

    Gardiner was imo absolutely garbage. His allowance for the rebels first try from a scrum where Pone had clearly gone to ground and was on hands and knees before the ball was out for example. He picks and chooses when he wants to enforce the laws to the letter, and then other times let’s everything go. The last penalty for Tahs sealing off was correct, but that was the rebels MO all night. Flooding the BD with bodies quickly and turning into a mess so the ref can’t see.

    The new offside line seems to change at every tackle too.

    Tahs were bad and even with a consistent ref would have lost.

    • Hoss

      Bingo. Gus didn’t cost them the game but by lord he was awful.

    • idiot savant

      Thats two games in a row where I couldn’t make head or tail of Gardiner’s scrum decisions. I think Karl makes a good point that he was on a hiding to nothing with the sheer amount of infringing that was going on in the game. The Tahs were offside almost all game. The line out throwing was so inaccurate that Gardiner starting letting ones that only swung a half a metre go. Both sides played the ball in rucks while off their feet all night. That in itself usually turns a game to mush. Louwrens was slow to pass all night possibly because there was so much interference he kept waiting to get a clear grab on the ball. Given the mess, it only makes Toomua’s game all the more impressive.

      • David Creagh

        The Waratah line out throws had an amount of swing Mitchell Starc would be proud of. Gardiner has no idea at scrum time, I think he just guesses. I also hate the way he has let Lowrens delay the scrum feed, it is tough to stay stable whilst waiting to bring the drive on.

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks Mickey, well a bit of humble pie being consumed here over Toomua. I think that in this game the Tahs ineptitude made the Rebels look better than they are but I have give him credit as he stepped up and played well at times last night. I sort of predicted this but good on him for doing it. I feel for Harrison as neither DC nor BB would look good if they played in that Tahs team.
    A bit of humble pie on Wessels and his continual changes causing the team disruption too. I thought they attacked well and picked the Tahs defence apart. Tahs scrambled well but lacked dominance in defence and this kept them on the back foot all night.
    I thought Gardner lost control a bit but it was because there was so many mistakes and unlawful play he was trying to get some flow going and not pick on infractions that didn’t have a materiel effect on the game. Unfortunately the players on both sides were so bad this was hard to do.
    A good win for the Rebels but handed to them on a plate by a very poor Tahs team

    • idiot savant

      Toomua has spent so much of his career chopping and changing between 10 and 12 that he hasn’t had a run of games in the 10 jersey to really settle into it. He has always looked rushed to me as if he had to try and achieve everything quickly. Now with a few consecutive starts at 10 he is not pushing so hard and appears more comfortable. I think he will only get better. Interesting watching him talk to Hooper after the game. Interesting body language. I couldn’t help but think it was the last Wallaby captain talking to the next one.

      • KwAussie Rugby Lover

        Maybe actually. I think without the guaruntee from Cheika Hooper needs to do a lot more to cement his place and spending 10 mins in the bin for continual poor decisions that lead to penalties won’t be helping him at all

        • Yowie

          Hooper could just turn-up the belligerent attitude to referees that worked so well for the last few Wallabies seasons?

        • Hoppy

          Unfortunately his exorbitant contract will probably see him selected anyway. He has been far from effective in most of his games this year and his stats below tell the story of an energiser bunny who does little effectively on th3 field.. he is currently constantly Tipped out of rucks and actively avoids tackles. Very ordinary..

        • David Creagh

          Disagree, Hooper has had some excellent games since the break, I have liked the extra work he is doing over the ball and his effectiveness has been better. I do think that there are better opensides available for selection though Miller (not sure why has not had more starts, heaps better than Cusack in my view), McReight and Liam Wright I think offer more effectiveness. I am going to slap myself for saying this but I think that Hannigan looks a much improved player (not a huge challenge though, plenty of room for improvement), still does some dumb shit at the breakdown and is an ineffective ball carrier but has made some good tackles in close.

        • idiot savant

          I thought the same about Miller. I think if Hooper plays really tight, his workrate over 80 minutes will have enough interference value to get him the jersey. Agree he is not as effective as others when he gets there but he probably wins the averages. Hanigan is very similar to Simmo (Simmo lite?), a high workrate tackling jumping second rower. Not sure a side can afford two of them but the Tahs options are limited. One thing for sure is Hanigan is not a 6. Which is what Cheika said about Higginbotham. Never mind that Higginbotham had won a Super Rugby championship and a test against the All Blacks playing 6. But in Chiek’s eyes Hanigan was a 6 and Higgers wasn’t. Hilarious now.

        • Huw Tindall

          Need to look at more nuanced stats at the breakdown including ball slowed/disrupted and opposition players committed. Because Hooper hits so many rucks his % turnover may be lower but that’s only one very narrow stat. Eddie Jones is big on the other stats and had his England pack going hard at the ruck, not necessarily hard on the ball.

  • Larry Jorgensen

    What was Stephen Hoiles saying?

    • GoMelbRebels

      He’s not saying much right now. Mouth too full of humble pie.

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      Hahahahaha good point. S they say about experts, ex is has been and spent is a drip under pressure,

  • Timbo

    I have a question for those who know the laws better than I, Toomua kicked the ball over the dead ball line at the siren. Possibly a drop kick. Surely as the ball is still in play, despite it being a penalty kick, its akin to kicking a ball dead and therefore the opposite team gets a line out from where the ball was kicked… If it was a drop kick over the posts, that’s a knock on and scrum to the opposite team? The ball is not dead so realistically the play should be continued?

    • KwAussie Rugby Lover

      Unless the infraction is for a penalty once the ball is dead it’s the end of the game. If there had been time left then yes a scrum to the Tahs where he kicked it from.

  • Red Block

    Is it just my imagination or has Michael Hooper been playing a lot closer to the centre of the field?
    I can’t recall him being penalised so much or involved so much over the last 5 years.

    • Rugby Truth

      He did play closer to the action and returned 5 runs for 11 metres, 73% tackle success, 5 penalties conceded, and 1 yellow card.

      Perhaps he’s better off staying on the wing and let the real rugby players play

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