The Rebels headed to Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in Tokyo needing a win and preferably a bonus point win to stay in touch with both the Brumbies at the top of the Australian conference and the rest of the top eight.
They were greeted by a 31-degree Tokyo day and the Rebels delivered the much-needed bonus point win with a healthy boost to their points difference.
Gerhard van den Heever intercepted a long pass from Quade Cooper before van de Heever passed to Jason Emery, who passed back to van de Heever. The Sunwolves winger than lost the ball in contact on half way. The Rebels were awarded a penalty at the resulting scrum.
From the line out just outside the Sunwolves’ 22 the Rebels maintained the ball for six phases and gained ten metres before Hugh Roach lost the ball after receiving a big hit from Luke Thompson.
The Rebels received a penalty against Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco for entering a maul from the side. The Rebels attacked from the line out but Matt Philip was driven back by a massive tackle by former Rebels teammate Amanaki Mafi and hooker Nathan Vella. The Sunwolves were able to turn the ball over at the ruck on their defensive 22. The Sunwolves had some space on the left wing but were unable to make the most of that opportunity. Hayden Parker’s clearing kick saw the ball move into the Rebels’ defensive half.
Following Parker’s kick, Reece Hodge made a mini-break that gained the Rebels 20 metres. Hugh Roach tried to offload to Quade Cooper but his opposing hooker Vella read the pass like a book and knocked it backwards. Semisi Masirewa then had the ball knocked free by a Reece Hodge tackle. Dane Haylett-Petty received the ball from Genia, breaking one tackle before passing to Marika Koroibete. Koroibete gained five metres but had the ball ripped away from him Mark Abbott.
The Sunwolves received a short arm penalty at the scrum and Hayden Parker booted the ball into the Rebels’ half. Richard Hardwick made a good run popping the ball to Adam Coleman who passed to Genia. Genia found Ross Haylett-Petty, with the Rebels gaining 30 metres. Genia then put in a box kick, when he potentially could have thrown the ball to the left. But perhaps Will knows best because the clearing kick from the Sunwolves went into touch just outside their defensive 22.
From the lineout, Billy Meakes, Matt Gibbon and Adam Coleman made runs. Then Genia passed to Quade Cooper, who threw a flat ball to Matt Philip. Philip was able to find space between two Sunwolves defenders and passed back to Cooper who then passed to an unmarked Angus Cottrell. Cottrell scored next to the posts to open the scoring in the 13th minute. Quade Cooper made it 7 – nil.
The Sunwolves lost the ball inside their attacking half. Dane Haylett-Petty gained tremendous distance with a kick to near the Sunwolves’ line. Hayden Parker kicked the ball into touch just outside the 22. From the line out, Richard Hardwick passed to Genia, who then passed to Cooper. Cooper with a superb short ball put Reece Hodge through a hole. Hodge went to Semisi Masirewa and then passed to Marika Koroibete who scored in the corner. Gerhard van den Heever thought he may have been obstructed by Dane Haylett-Petty but referee Nick Briant was having nothing of it. Quade Cooper converted from the sideline, to extend the Rebels lead to 14 – 0.
The Sunwolves received back to back penalties, one at scrum time and one for Matt Philip tackling a jumper in the air at a line out. The Sunwolves had a lineout five metres from the Rebels’ line. Matt Philip was then sinbinned for cynical play at the breakdown. This presented the Sunwolves with a great opportunity to get back in the game. The Rebels were penalised again for Adam Coleman collapsing a rolling maul from the lineout. Phil Burleigh couldn’t handle a pass from Kaito Shigeno as they were attacking the Rebels line. The Rebels spread the ball on their own line with Koroibete finding Dane Haylett-Petty, who beat a couple of players. Jack Maddocks put in a low kick, which found Semisi Masirewa. Masirewa was stopped in his tracks by Quade Cooper and Masirewa was penalised for not releasing the ball. Cooper missed the penalty goal.
After a rolling maul from another attacking lineout for the Rebels, Hugh Roach found Will Genia who passed to Reece Hodge. From the next ruck Genia and Cooper combined before a long ball over the top from Cooper putting Koroibete in for a double. Cooper was unable to make the conversion and the Rebels were 19 nil up after 30 minutes.
The Sunwolves looked like making a break around half way but unfortunately Phil Burleigh couldn’t take the ball despite a juggling act that a circus clown would have been proud off.
Some enterprising play from the Sunwolves with Jason Emery, Phil Burleigh, Luke Thompson and Semisi Masirewa, saw the Sunwolves gain thirty metres and whilst threatening the Rebels’ 22 Richard Hardwick was penalised for playing the ball whilst not supporting his own weight. The Rebels put massive pressure on the Sunwolves following the attacking lineout and were able to force a penalty at the ruck for the Sunwolves not releasing.
We headed to oranges with the Rebels leading 19 to nil.
The second half started with a bang for former Rebel Amanaki Mafi. Mafi took a kick from Jack Maddocks on his own ten metre line. Mafi made one of his customary runs, busting through a tackle from Billy Meakes and then steamrolling Will Genia. As Genia was falling to the ground he was hit in the head by Phil Burleigh’s leg. The referee stopped play while the ball was live and Genia went off with concussion and was replaced by Michael Ruru.
From the scrum restart the Rebels were penalised for pushing too early. Kaito Shingano took a quick tap and passed to Amanaki Mafi. Mafi made a good run but was isolated at the ruck and Richard Hardwick was all over the ruck earning the Rebels a penalty for Mafi holding on.
The Rebels were on the attack but had some miscommunication with a couple of passes hitting the deck. As the Rebels tried to maintain possession, Josh Timu replicated Hardwick’s efforts earning a penalty at the ruck for the Sunwolves.
Kaito Shigeno passed to Hayden Parker who passed to Jason Emery. Emery put through a grubber kick for van den Heever. I thought van den Heever may have knocked on in attempting to pick up the ball, but he was given the benefit of the doubt. On the attack inside the 22, a lovely inside ball from Mark Abbott to Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco saw the Sunwolves gain 10 metres. The Sunwolves tried to spread the ball from the right of the field to the left of the field but Phil Burleigh was adjudged to have thrown a forward pass.
After receiving two penalties, one at scrum time and one for a deliberate knockdown, the Rebels had a line out inside the Sunwolves’ 22. From the back of a rolling maul Hugh Roach found Michael Ruru who found Reece Hodge. Roach and Ross Haylett-Petty made runs and then Matt Philip tried to catch and pass but unfortunately, he hadn’t caught the ball when he tried to pass it. Hayden Parker tried a cross field kick to Gerhard van den Heever, but there was no advantage and the Sunwolves had a scrum five metres from their own try line.
The Rebels put in a massive scrum and pushed the Sunwolves off the ball, unfortunately for the Rebels Ross Haylett-Petty got a little excited at the back of the scrum and knocked on as he attempted to pick up the ball.
A Billy Meakes knock on gave the Sunwolves a scrum outside their own 22. The Sunwolves looked for some expansive play through the hands. However, Reece Hodge had other ideas putting pressure on a Josh Timu pass which resulted in Semisi Masirewa knocking on. Jack Maddocks picked up the ball, ran twenty metres before being tackled by Jamie Booth but Maddocks slid over the line for a try to continue his love affair with the Sunwolves (six tries in four games v the Sunwolves). Quade Cooper’s conversion registered his 100th point for the Melbourne Rebels and extended the lead to 26 nil.
The home team looked promising twice with ball in hand but it amounted to nothing as twice the Sunwolves threw the ball into touch.
From a lineout Quade Cooper threw a long ball to Marika Koroibete who caught the ball on the half way line left Masirewa in his wake and looked like he was going to notch a hat trick in the corner but he passed inside to captain Dane Haylett-Petty to score.
Jason Emery got the Sunwolves on the board charging down a Reece Hodge kick and chasing through regathering the ball on the try line to score.
From a scrum near their defensive ten metre line the Rebels gained five metres and were awarded penalty advantage. Ruru found Quade Cooper who threw a ball behind his back. The ball found grass but Dane Haylett-Petty gathered the ball and passed to Koroibete. The Fijian flyer made a great run gaining 20 metres. The referee determined there was no advantage and went back for the penalty.
Jordan Uelese, who was returning from a knee injury and almost a year out, overthrew the line out not for the first time. The Sunwolves lost the ball a short time later and the Rebels received another penalty at scrum time. The Rebels elected to take another scrum and were dominant again but the ball popped out before any penalty was awarded. Ruru put in a chip kick over the top towards the try line but Jamie Booth was there to cover the ball, but he took the ball back over his try line. The Rebels dominated the five-metre scrum, Richard Hardwick picked up the ball and came close to scoring a try. But Michael Ruru picked the ball up and dived over the line.
The Rebels’ scrum dominated again and after a rolling maul from a line out were attacking the line. Quade Cooper was driven 15 metres backwards but on the 22 Ruru found Jack Maddocks who ran a brilliant line to scythe through the Sunwolves defense and notched a double under the posts (make that 7 tries from four games v the Sunwolves).
The Rebels put the icing on the cake with a try to Jordan Uelese, from a rolling maul from an attacking line out to reach 50. Quade Cooper converted the try to wrap up the match 52 to 7. The Rebels highest ever score.
The Game Changer
There was no real game changer. The Rebels dominated for virtually the entire match and whilst it took the Rebels 13 minutes to score, their dominance at that stage was an indicator that Rebels tries were in the future.
The G&GR MOTM
Quade Cooper’s short and long passing game was absolutely brilliant and pivotal in a number of the Rebels’ tries. Marika Koroibete was the subject of some criticism recently but he has been brilliant the last two weeks. If you could award the MOTM to a group of players you could give it the Rebels’ forwards who were dominant at scrum time and very good at line out time before Hugh Roach was replaced. I will pick Cooper.
As noted in the G&GR MOTM, Cooper and Koroibete were very good. Matt Philip, Adam Coleman, in his first game back and Angus Cotrell were all very good in the forward pack. Dane Haylett-Petty was rock solid at the back and Reece Hodge also played well.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Marika Koroibete 2, Jack Maddocks 2, Angus Cottrell, Dane Haylett-Petty, Michael Ruru, Jordan Uelese
Conversions: Quade Cooper 6
Tries: Jason Emery
Conversions: Hayden Parker
Cards: Matt Philip yellow card 22nd minute