The Melbourne Rebels have kicked off their 2019 season with a gritty 34-27 win over the Brumbies in Canberra. Lead superbly by Will Genia and his old mate Quade Cooper, the Rebels recovered from a 10-0 defecit and barely any ball in the first half to complete a seven point win with a dominant second half display.
The Brumbies jumped out of the gates early and should have scored the opening but for Quade Cooper pulling off a try saving tackle on Tevita Kuridrani.
They settled for a penalty goal but then suffered a double injury blow early with both David Pocock and new recruit Toni Pulu going off with head injuries. Pocock copped an accidental elbow from Dane Haylett-Petty and Pulu clashed heads with Billy Meakes.
The home side went to the rolling maul and Folau Fainga’a scored the try but the Rebels hit back straight away with Tom English twisting his way over to score after some great lead up work from Will Genia with some great support after a poor chase from the Brumbies exiting their end gave Genia space down the left wing.
Things got worse for the Brumbies in comical fashion as Irae Simone attempted what looked like a kick pass to the wing but it fell into the arms of Jack Maddocks who had the easiest run to the line to give the Rebels a 12-10 lead despite barely having their hands on the ball.
The Brumbies scrum was edging their counter parts and it allowed them to get out of trouble on a few occasions and got them down the Rebels end and it was the forwards doing the hard work and it came to Rory Arnold who really did dive over to put the Brumbies back in front.
But again, the Rebels didn’t seem concerned and off a penalty of their own, patient work from Genia allowed Matt Philip to hit a great line and go over for another change of lead.
The scoring continued for the Brumbies and again it was their forwards doing the work and Allan Alaalatoa burrowed over from close range to give the Brumbies a 22-19 lead at half time.
With the wind at the Rebels back in the second half, they dominated the opening ten minutes of play. Maddocks thought he’d scored his second try after being put into a yawning gap from Genia, but the TMO ruled it out due to a forward pass.
But they wouldn’t have to wait too long to hit the lead again as a rampaging Anaru Rangi found himself up against two backs who couldn’t stop him from close range as the momentum was truly with the Rebels at this point with the pressure starting to affect the Brumbies, who struggled to get into the Rebels end of the field with the Rebels lifting the pace of the game and the Brumbies struggled to match.
With 15 minutes remaining, the Rebels looked for all money to extend their lead with Tom English in space but an ankle tap from Kuridrani in the shadows of the line saw the ball come free to the relief of the Brumbies defence.
The Brumbies had a rare chance down the Rebels end after a penalty but the lineout woes that started after the substitution of Fainga’a continued with their fourth loss in a row to get the Rebels off the hook.
With the game heading towards the end, Cooper made it a seven point margin and then the Rebels sealed the game with Maddocks using his cricket background to score his second with a spectacular grab off a Meakes cross kick with the Brumbies defenders bamboozled and caught scrambling after an early kick through.
There was a late consolation try to Sam Carter but it wasn’t enough for the Brumbies as the Rebels ran out deserved 34-27 winners.
The Game Changer
The second half. The Rebels had all the momentum right off the kick off and strangled the Brumbies attack whilst scoring 15 of their own.
The G&GR MOTM
Hard to spilit between Will Genia and Quade Cooper who lead the Rebels superbly. A double to Jack Maddocks was also instrumental in the win.
David Pocock went off injured after five minutes and barely played any part. Without Adam Coleman, Matt Philip looked good in his combination with Luke Jones. The Genia/Cooper combo looked good and their game management contributed to their win and being a World Cup year, you never know what might happen with a backup flyhalf picked.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Fainga’a, Arnold, Alaalatoa, Carter
Conversions: Lealiifano 2
Tries: Maddocks 2, English, Philip, Rangi
Conversions: Cooper 3