Rebels Valiant Effort Against The Chiefs - Green and Gold Rugby
Melbourne Rebels

Rebels Valiant Effort Against The Chiefs

Melbourne Rebels Vs Chiefs
Rebels Valiant Effort Against The Chiefs

After being routed in the first two rounds most predicted another slaughter for Melbourne’s Rebels against New Zealand’s top side, the Waikato Chiefs. In an entertaining and hard fought encounter at AAMI Park, the Rebels surprised many with their aggressive game and were still a chance to snatch the win until a late surge from the Chiefs.


In the first action of the game, the Rebels let Damien McKenzie’s kick off bounce and the Chiefs regained possession. To an audible sigh of relief, the Chiefs knocked the ball on and no damage was done.

Consecutive penalties to the Rebels, against Dominic Bird and Sam Cane, saw Reece Hodge call for the kicking tee directly in front of the posts. Hodge struck the kick well but missed to the left. Moments later, McKenzie was lining up a shot at the other end of the field following a penalty for a deliberate knock down. McKenzie’s kick also drifted wide and the score remained nil all.

Hodge was given two more opportunities for penalty goals in the next ten minutes but was unable to convert either into points. Mr Anselmi took a moment to have a chat to the Chiefs captain, Sam Cane, about his side’s discipline after conceding their sixth penalty in only the 18th minute.

The Chiefs opened the scoring at the 22 minute mark, more through good luck than good management. Tom English stripped the ball in a tackle on the try line, the loose ball bounced back into play and into the hands of Dominic Bird who touched down for five points. McKenzie made no mistake with the conversion and the Chiefs lead 0-7 after 24 minutes.

The Chiefs looked to have a second try just two minutes later but the replay showed that Shaun Stevenson had put a toe on the touchline as he flew down the left wing.

Moments later, Liam Messam pushed the referee’s patience too far by going off his feet at a ruck and is shown a yellow card. Jackson Garden-Bachop took over the kicking duties and secured the Rebels first points. 3-7 to the Chiefs after 27 minutes.

Eventually, a knock-on from Sefa Naivalu ended a tight half of rugby with no further change to the score. The Rebels fans seemed happy with their teams efforts and were starting to get involved in the game.

First start for another local lad, Fereti Sa’aga


The Rebels started the second half firing. A dangerous break through the mid-field by Amanaki Mafi was snuffed out by a Sam Cane turnover. The reward came moments later, though. Some heavy work from the forwards gave Debreczeni space to pass to Garden-Bachop who threw a beautiful ball to Marika Koroibete to score his first try in Super Rugby; a spectacular finish in the left corner. Garden-Bachop missed the conversion, but the Rebels were in front for the first time, 8-7.

Two minutes later, the Chiefs looked to have hit back with a quick lineout throw catching the Rebels off guard. The try was disallowed on review as the TV replay showed Stevenson again had a foot in touch and should have been a Rebels lineout. In a somewhat bizarre sequence of events, a penalty was awarded to the Chiefs for an infringement by Mafi on Stephen Donald. McKenzie missed and the Rebels held on to their narrow lead.

At 53 minutes Colby Fainga’a earned his side a penalty for Mitch Brown not releasing. JG-B extended the Rebels’ lead to 11-7 as the Chiefs replaced their front row.

In another strange set of circumstances, the Rebels were awarded a penalty for a lifting tackle on Naivalu. Advantage was played out and then, after some prompting from the Assistant Referee, the lifting tackle was finally reviewed, and Solomon Alaimalo was sent to the bin for ten minutes. In all the fuss, another potential act of foul play may have gone unnoticed.

The Chiefs regained the lead after some excellent work from Brodie Retallick, crashing through the Rebels defence to score. McKenzie converted to make the score 11-14.

Garden-Bachop levelled the score with a penalty for a shoulder charge by Johnny Faauli on Pat Leafa. 14 points all, ten minutes to play.

At 74 minutes, Leafa gifted the Chiefs three points with an unnecessary penalty right in front of the uprights. The Chiefs lead 14-17.

Three minutes later Sam Cane put the result beyond doubt, crashing over the tryline against the right goal post. McKenzie extended his team’s advantage to eight points with another successful conversion.

The Chiefs were not done yet. From deep in his own half, Brodie Retallick conjured an offload to Anton Lienert-Brown who found space on the right wing. Lienert-Brown got the ball inside to Shaun Steveson to finish a wonderful try and earn his team a bonus point win right on the final siren.

An entertaining and hard fought match right to the end; final score 14-27.

Melbourne Rebels

This game was a big step up for the Rebels from their previous efforts. Five minutes from full time they were still in with a chance to win but just lacked polish when they needed it most. Mafi, Fainga’a and Steve Cummins worked exceptionally hard for the full eighty minutes and lifted their teammates. The halves pairing of Stirzaker and Garden-Bachop showed improvement this week but still have a long way to go.

Our most capped Rebel; The People’s Champ, Laurie Weeks

Notable Events:

  • Foundation Rebel, Laurie Weeks, became the most capped Rebel.
  • Pat Leafa played his 50th game for the team.
  • Melbourne’s own Fereti Sa’aga made his run-on debut at Loose Head Prop (and played well enough to start again next week).
  • Harlequins and Melbourne Rising player Murray Douglas made his Super Rugby debut.

With the number of young local players starting to come through the Rebels system and, the success of Victoria’s schoolboy teams and Under 20s, the future is looking bright for the Rebels.

Next Friday night the Rebels host the Waratahs.


Despite already playing three tough games, rotating a number of their stars, and playing with 14 men for twenty minutes, the Chiefs still managed a bonus point win. They did as all good New Zealand teams do and played right to the final whistle, eventually scoring twenty points in the last thirteen minutes. It seemed inevitable that they would score the final try.

Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, and Tom Sanders were among the best for the Visitors. The experiment with Damien McKenzie at Fly-Half was short lived as Aaron Cruden was subbed on inside the first half hour.

Powerful game from lock, Brodie Retallick

Next week, the Chiefs can put their feet up and enjoy a bye round from atop the New Zealand Conference.

The Game Changer

Just on the hour mark, Nic Stirzaker charged down a clearance kick from Johnny Faauli to earn a five metre scrum. With a one man advantage, a four point lead, and the fans belting out the Rebel Chant they needed to score. The Chiefs weathered the storm and cleared safely


For the home team, Amanaki Mafi played a cracking game both with ball in hand and defensively but, the MOTM award this week goes to Brodie Retallick. Retallick scored a try, had a hand in at least one other, made multiple off-loads and tackle busts and tackled relentlessly

Wallaby Watch

Both Chibba Hanson and Reece Hodge had solid games although Hodge’s goal kicking was poor missing three kickable attempts. Sefa Naivalu had some good involvements but should have backed himself to beat his man on the outside and score rather than cutting back infield during the second half




Score and Scorers

Rebels: 14
Tries: M. Koroibete (44″)
Conversions: 0
Penalty Goals: J. Garden-Bachop (29″, 54″, 71″)

Chiefs: 27
Tries: D. Bird (22″), B. Retallick (67″), S. Cane (77″), S. Stevenson (80″)
Conversions: D. McKenzie (23″, 68″)
Penalty Goals: D. McKenzie (74″)

  • LoveThePoop

    The crowd sounded like they were really backing the rebels… Not sure if that was just Chiefs fans wanting to see a contest or if they were genuine Rebels fans… Either way I take my hat off for showing up and making noise despite the horror start to the season and talks of the club getting the chop

  • Pedro

    That shoulder charge should’ve been the chiefs third yellow card. Faauli ran in like he was trying to bust through a locked door. That being said the rebels played pretty dumb rugby in the final quarter, the chiefs were recycling so quick there were never rucks but the rebs kept backing up like they needed to stay onside.

    Thanks for the write up.

    • Mr Wobbly

      We’ve all seen plenty of lesser shoulder charges given the cheese, I reckon the ref might have been reluctant to pull the trigger a third time. There was another incident that I think might get a bit of scrutiny come Monday’s review.

  • Adrian

    Why no mention of Koroibeti in match write up?

    • Mr Wobbly

      I did mention his try :)

      There were other players I could have singled out for a mention but, TBH, I was pretty proud of the whole team. I thought they took a big step forward this week.

    • Brumby Runner

      Koroibete showed more of his skills in this game, but had a very poor miss on his opposite in the lead up to one of the Chief’s tries. Still a way to go.

      Mafi had a great game and Colby worked until he could hardly stand. They were the standouts imo.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Mate he’s not proving to be that good

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    That was a great improvement from the Rebels. They demonstrated some really good flow and I think their season will continue to go forward from here

    • Rebels3

      Positives is that unlike the other teams we only have 2 kiwi games left. Esp not having to play the hurricanes and Chiefs. Done all this and the other Aussie teams are only 1 win ahead

      • Mr Wobbly

        At the moment, any positives are worth mentioning :)

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        That will help

    • Keith Butler

      I must admit that I was expecting another shellacking but we were still in it with 10 to go. Many positives. Cummins and Mafi had big games IMO and the whole back row performed. It will be interesting when we have A full complement of forwards to select from. Some weeks off though. Half back getting better, English looking good at 13 and Debs comfortable at 15. Tough games to come against the Tahs and Landers though.

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Mafi is having a great year. Pity he’s not eligible for the Wallabies

  • Fatflanker

    That scrum turn-over really was the game changer. I thought Mafi stopped pushing a tad too early in his eagerness to get his hands on the ball and go for a run at the line.

    I’m somehow betting the ARU is breathing a sigh of relief.

    • Muzz

      I’m not sure if the ARU really gives a fuck anymore.sad as that is

  • idiot savant

    Yet another example of a side run over in the last 20 minutes by a kiwi side. Do they have pseudoephedrine sewn into their jumpers? How do they sprint harder in the last 20 than they do in the first 20?

    Had to spare a thought for the Reds last minute penalty against the Crusaders. I lost count of how many times the Chiefs sealed off the ball, particularly as they swarmed in the last 20 minutes. Groups of players sprinting flat out into the ruck and falling over.

    • RedAnt

      I actually think the Rebels were a bit unlucky. It’s amazing how often the Chiefs were sealing off the ball, obstructing runners and tacklers, drifting off-side etc, pretty much throughout the whole game, not just the last 20. The Chiefs were pretty lucky to only have two yellow cards.

      But the thing that I love about the NZ teams is their ‘fortune favours the brave’ approach to the game. They chance their arm and tend to get luck going their way.

      • Keith Butler

        Good to see the ref penalising players for holding on, just plain cheating. Would have got a good shoeing in years go by. Those were the days.

  • Keith Butler

    Shame they couldn’t find a photo of the actual match.

    • BigNickHartman

      Keith I don’t know whether to have a go at you for ignorantly whining or thank you for thinking we’re comparable with other publications that have money and full time staff and all that

      • Keith Butler

        Nick, I have the utmost respect for G&GR a great forum just wasn’t expecting to see Toby Smith’s ugly mug in the lead photo and just felt I had to comment.

        • Tomthusiasm

          They probably couldn’t/didn’t want to embed a Getty Images pic in the header, hence the older stock photo. If you do a google image search and filter by licence, there’s not many good quality images that you can legally use.

        • oztimmay

          Don’t worry, we’ve tried. Sadly, it doesn’t work.

          FWIW we have to credit Getty images each time we use one of their images. This is why we use the embed option as it grabs all of the image credit info.

        • Tomthusiasm

          Is GAGR a Word Press site, if you don’t mind me asking?

        • oztimmay


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