Reds win thriller against Rebels - Green and Gold Rugby
Melbourne Rebels

Reds win thriller against Rebels

Reds win thriller against Rebels

It was a game of two halves. In the first half, the Reds were quite dynamic in attack using quick hands to devastating effect. Meanwhile, any attacking by the Rebels either resulted in a handling error or an aimless kick (much to the chagrin of the Rebels fans who were yelling “run”).

In the second half, the Rebels played more attacking running rugby. Not sure if this was a result of the injection of Sean McMahon at halftime for the first time this season, coach McGahan listening to the crowd and releasing the shackles, the players taking it on themselves or a combination of the above.

The Reds were not as sharp in the second half as they were in the first half but across the eighty minutes they were a fraction sharper than the Rebels and that was the difference.

First half

Prior to kickoff acting Rebels captain Colby Fainga’a was again a late withdrawal and Reece Hodge had the C next to his name again.

Hodge put the Rebels on the scoreboard first with a penalty goal after George Smith was penalised shortly after the kickoff.

The Reds lost Campbell Magnay to injury in the first five minutes of the match.

Samu Kerevi provided the first excitement for the night making a break down the left wing breaking tackles at will and passing to Eto Nabuli. As he was tackled by a desperate Ben Meehan, Nabuli threw the ball inside. The Rebels dived on the ball but knocked on a short time later.

Following the scrum, some brilliant play from Scott Higginbotham in contact, a cut out pass from Quade Cooper to Nabuli and an inside pass from Nabuli sent Kerevi over for the first try.

Hodge put the Rebels back in front 6-5 with another penalty goal.

As the ball went across the touch line the natives got restless and there were a number of players involved in a push and shove which threatened to spill into the crowd. The referee requested the TMO look at it but it was decided to restart with the line out.

Karmichael Hunt received a yellow card for a professional foul at the breakdown while defending his try line. The Rebels decided to have an attacking scrum but their scrum was penalised.

A Nick Frisby box kick was taken well by Koroibete but the Reds stole the ball at the breakdown and moved the ball into the Rebels 22.

The Rebels regathered the ball but Stephen Moore showed his best Sally Pearson impersonation at the breakdown to result in an unplayable maul.

The Reds continued to show their dominance at the next two or three scrums but were then penalised for early engagement.

Reece Hodge committed a cardinal sin by failing to find touch from the penalty. The Reds decided to attack from this mistake. A great team try was scored by the Reds with Smith, Cooper and Higginbotham all heavily involved and Nabuli receiving the ball unmarked on the wing to score the Reds second try. Following Cooper’s conversion, the Reds led 12-6.

Kerevi a short time later once again cut open the Rebels and he had Simmons in support but the move broke down despite the Rebels defensive line being in tatters.

Some 5 or 6 minutes later the Rebels conceded a number of penalties in a row. This resulted in a 5-metre line out for the Reds, where the Reds driving maul was unable to be stopped by the Rebels and Stephen Moore scored a try.

One improvement required in the Reds game, particularly in the first half, was their inability to receive the Rebels’ kickoff. Once again they were unable to successfully receive the kickoff and then gave away a penalty. Hodge kicked the penalty goal after the siren to give the Rebels some momentum going into halftime.

Half Time Rebels 9 Reds 17

Second Half

The long awaited return for Rebels fans of Sean McMahon for the first time this season occurred at the start of the second half. McMahon made an immediate impact with a number of damaging runs.

Ben Volavola kept the ball in hand and created the Rebels with a spark linking with Hodge and Marika Koroibete. Koroibete bounced off a number of tackles. George Smith was then penalised for offside and Hodge reduced the margin to 5.

Koroibete then put up an ill-advised kick which was taken by Duncan Paia’aua who passed to Nabuli, then on to Kerevi and to Higginbotham. Former Rebels captain and all-time Rebels leading try scorer Higginbotham came back to haunt the Rebels scoring a try, giving the Reds a 24-12 lead.

Tom English made a barnstorming run which resulted in Will Miller scoring his first Super Rugby try under the posts and the margin was back to 5.

A short time later English left the field after receiving a heavy knock.

Volavola then showed some wonderful creativity with a great cross field kick to Sefanaia Naivalu who found Jack Maddocks. The Rebels gained 50 metres from the play but Maddocks was taken into touch.

Some more enterprising play from the Reds with the ball going through a number of sets of hands resulted in Karmichael Hunt going over the line. The decision was sent up to the TMO, who ruled no try due to a forward pass by George Smith in the lead up.

Some good work from the Rebel forwards and some quick ball movement saw Marika Koroibete crash over in the corner. Referee van der Westhuizen awarded the try but upon seeing replays asked the TMO for confirmation. The TMO confirmed that Koroibete just got the ball down before his rump went into touch. Hodge narrowly missed the conversion and scores were level heading into the final ten minutes.

Kerevi made another break which sent the Reds on the attack. A chip kick out to Higginbotham created a try-scoring opportunity but Amanaki Mafi was able to place enough pressure on Higginbotham to see him drop the ball before grounding it.

The Reds then used a driving maul from a line out around 40 metres out to gain valuable ground. Hodge then knocked on as he attempted to tackle Cooper. Following the scrum, Kerevi barged over for the match-winning try.

The Reds were able to catch the restart just before full time and then put the ball into touch to record a much-needed victory. The losing bonus point for the Rebels was enough to leapfrog the Sunwolves and move off the bottom of the table.

Full Time Rebels 24 Reds 29

The Game Changer

The 78min try from Samu Kerevi.  Would have broken a few Rebel hearts in the crowd.


Samu Kerevi ran for approximately 150 metres, made numerous line breaks and tackle busts and scored two tries.

Wallaby Watch

Other than Kerevi, Sean McMahon showed that with a few more games under his belt he will push for Wallaby selection. Quade Cooper displayed controlled creativity in the first half in particular.

The Details

Score and Scorers

Rebels 24

Tries: Will Miller, Marika Koroibete

Conversions: Reece Hodge

Penalties: Reece Hodge 4

Reds 29

Tries: Samu Kerevi 2, Eto Nabuli, Stephen Moore, Scott Higginbotham

Conversions: Quade Cooper 2


Karmichael Hunt yellow

Crowd: 6,931

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

  • James Pettifer

    So 3 things we learned from tonights game
    1 – Koroibete should never ever kick the ball in a game again.
    2 – If Meehan box kicks again then everyone in attendance should be able to give him a kick. At least he should be sat down and forced to watch every one of his box kicks and realise how pointless every one of them was
    3 – Sean McMahon is the man. The Rebels were a completely different team with him on the ground. His ability to bend the line and push the opposition back creates space and makes the whole team look significantly better.

    • Keith Butler

      Just about sums up the game. Better performance in the 2nd half. Maybe a bit early but Sean Mc should be captain next week. He leads by example and the team follow. Volavola didn’t have a bad game either certainly an improvement on last weeks effort.

      • Mr Wobbly

        I thought Volavola used the ball better than any of our other 10s this year. His defense though… we would be better off with a head of lettuce on the ground. At least someone might trip over that.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Well Koroibete at least confirmed to everyone watching the sheer stupidity of paying huge amounts of money to bring in code jumpers over using that same money to develop local players like McMahon, Kerevi and Hodge. Yeah he may get the odd try but overall he is rubbish. I just hope his contract includes a clause that he must play for the Wallabies so he takes the field against us. He’ll be worth at least 2 try’s to the AB’s if he’s on.

      I agree McMahon has come back really strong. Him and Mafi together will be a very strong combination. I was also impressed with Hodge’s kicking during the game. He’s got a bloody good boot on him.

  • Fatflanker

    The look of terror on Quade Cooper’s face when Amanaki Mafi had him by the throat was priceless – that is one bloke i would certainly not want to mess with. Congratulations to Scott Higginbotham – all-time leading forward try scorer in Super rubgy is a pretty fair achievement.

    • Brisneyland Local

      I agree. But to be honest I dont think there is many players that also wouldnt have been doing the Poo my pants look!

  • swingpass

    the real game changer, imo, was the failure of the Rebels to score when a man up after the yellow to Hunt, and then to concede a try. Volavola was better in the second half but offense is only part of the game. he actually jogged away from the contact area when Nabuli scored the reds second try

  • Brisneyland Local

    Well after a total ‘Fat-boy’ mothers day breakfast of poached eggs, smoked salmon, potato croquettes, fried haloumi, turkish bread, rocket and champagne I crawled my completely over eaten ass onto the couch and watched the game.

    Look I know I might sound a bit disingenuous (as I am known to have the odd rant or two), but these bottom of the ladder games are quite entertaining. Yes the skill levels can be frustrating, but they are tight, and they are competitive.

    I think the rebels will rue their chances on this one. Glad to see that the reds held this one out. George Smith despite the penalty count played well. Kerevi is a legend. Higgers is really back in the hunt. Special K despite the yellow card which proved to be worth it in the end, played well. QC looked pretty good and orchestrated play well.
    We have to bring back Tuttle, as Frisby is just shite I am afraid. Simmons looked above the line.
    For the Rebels sean McMahon is certainly thier go forward guy, they are a different team when that man is on the ground.

    We are no where near the league of the Kiwi’s, but for where we are I am seeing gradual and slow improvement, but improvement none the less.

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Well a win is always an improvement. Agree on Frisby but if Tuttle does come back someone needs to talk to him about getting the ball away faster. You know with Hodge kicking so well, Higgers stepping up and Kerevi back to where he belongs there is some hope

      • Brisneyland Local

        Happy Mothers day to you KRL. Yep I think you are right. I am hoping that a benching for one week might get Tuttle to get his ass back into gear! Hodge did look good. Higgers, has each week been looking better and better, tapering for the right time of the year. Kerevi is a demon, it takes two players to slow him down, and three to get him down. that creates gaps.
        I thought the team try looked great. Yes I know I am a Cooper fan, but I thought his driecting of the pay looked better, and his passes are sublime. Just needs to get his percentages up. Hunt looked good.
        For the Wallabies, getting Willy g back into the frame, have some good go forward momentum from our piggies and we may actually be able to do some thing.
        Lets just hope that some one else picks the squad for Cheika!
        P.S> I wont need lunch or dinner after that fat boy pig out. Dad’s should never be allowed to cook, we always overestimate how much food is required!

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I think Cooper looks better with Kerevi outside him and a good 9 that’ll get him fast ball so he has more space.
          I still think Hunt struggles with positioning on defence but he’s certainly got some heart which is great. Going to be interesting to see who Cheika picks. If it’s Mumm I’ll friggen spew

        • Brisneyland Local

          MAte at this rate Mumm will be the capt! As I said during the World cup, I am sure that Mumm has video of Cheika with a goat! #goatgate

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Nah, Cheika would be proud of that

        • idiot savant

          Hunt is playing 10 in defence. Cooper is dropping back to full back. I think this switching, in addition to causing confusion about who’s supposed to be where, is contributing to the Reds poor second halves. Cooper fields a lot of high kicks and then kicks poorly himself. He also appears to be much less interested in running the ball back in counterattack. Whether this is fitness or a lack of ability to see the space I dont know. Two games in a row now he has repeatedly kicked poorly in the second half and it has been a factor in the Reds attack dropping off.

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Mate I agree. It also means if something happens and they change from attack to defence or vice versa then the players are out of position and either adapt or piss around trying to change. TBH if cooper can’t man up and defend at 10 he should fuck off and play soccer. I really don’t understand this policy and I think it contributes to the poor play

    • onlinesideline

      is it that they are at the bottom of the table or that they are both aussie teams. Meaning its the old tribal argument again, that we are more interested in BOTH teams because they are aussies we know who they, where they are from and its just instinctively more interesting to watch than say bottom of the table reds v bottom of the table South African team – you know where Im headed BL, I wont blab on.

      that breakfasttttt

      PS – same with Hurricanes v Crusaders – but other end of table but same principle – sell out crowd

      • Brisneyland Local

        Yeah I agree. It is just that the teams are in the same ball park capability wise. So it is close and competitive. I hate lopsided matches. except for when the Wallabies used to smash the soap dodgers! Watching the Poms get smashed is always great!
        I am still so full. Will need a little lie down I think! Before street drinkies in the afternoon!

    • Waz_dog

      Frisby had a good game – chose his box kicks well and only got to a ruck late once. He’s never going to be a Genia but he played well last night. Unlucky not getting a try assist when Higgers dropped it.

      Not sticking up for the man overall – he’s a shadow of himself, but the game he played last night was a good one.

      Duncan is looking really sharp at 12 – things are starting to happen for the Reds.

      On a side note – who would have thought the same bloke that reffed the Brums v Lions was the bloke that reffed the Reds v Tahs?

      • idiot savant

        I counted about 4 rucks Frisby didn’t make it too. I wonder if he is being held down? I thought his pass was much better overall. He lacks urgency when picking the ball up, spending more time looking at his options. On a few occasions the Rebels dived on ball that squirted out because he lacked that urgency. But there were glimpses of good things too.

        Sometimes I wonder if he isn’t a bit like Mogg – picked too early before he was really ready – and it has mucked up his thinking a bit. People will hate me for saying this but I think if the chasers are switched on his box kick is a weapon. Nobody can get his height.

  • Nicholas

    Ill take the win, but fucken hell that was harder than it needed to be.

    Yellow cards are still a problem. Regardless of if it was deserved or not we are giving away 1 a game. Unacceptable. Add to that way to many fucken penalties.

    Quade and Duncan look good with Kerevi and Hunt running good lines off them. Still lack support play but thats about 5th on the list of issues they need to fix.

    Forwards need to continue to set a platform. Win your own lineouts and hold the scrum are priority.

    Goal kicking is killing us as well. 2 from 5 and iirc the commentry mentioned that they had a 65% this season. Quade or someone else needs to work on that.

    There were moments for the Rebels. But they have two maybe four players who are performing to super rugby standard atm. Reds arnt much better.

  • onlinesideline

    Its weird how if you put your fingers over someones face including the eyes ( but not IN the eyes) while you are mauling as a forward you get weeks if not months in the sin bin yet a back is allowed to “fend” off a tackler by doing exactly that, shoving his fingers into someones face and sometimes IN the eyes – under the guise of it being a fend off – all because its at speed.

    Am I incorrect that they are pretty much the same thing – is it legal to fend off into someones face ? – and if so why is it never penalised ?

    • Andrew Luscombe

      Yeah. Ball carriers generally have different rules. They normally use their shoulder or even head to charge into the tackler. Tacklers could never do this. They often fend into the neck or head. I can’t remember a ball carrier being pennalised for going into a tackle dangerously, although I imagine it must have happened, and I think a Samoan was cited after a game in the last world cup for kneeing a low tackler in the head.

      For much of the history of rugby probably any time up to the early 1990s, it was probably correct to assume that primarily ball carriers were trying to avoid tackles, and tacklers were chasing the ball carrier. It isn’t the case any more and hasn’t been for maybe 20-30 years. Most carries now end in the ball carrier purposely running into one or more opponents. Maybe the rules need to catch up.

    • idiot savant

      What you are seeing is one frame taken at around one sixtieth of a second. At the pace both players are travelling I would hazard a guess that the contact to the face was less than one second. And if you look at the photo, Kerevi isn’t even looking at the tackler. Its a long time since I got out of a trot on a rugby field but I have a dim memory of both using the fend and being fended off. The trick is usually to come up under the jaw because if you can keep the head of the tackler back they can’t wrap their arms around you. If you sent all the photographers out to capture this one sixtieth of a second frame from fending runners every week there would be many instances not unlike the frame above. Remember the ball carrier is much more vulnerable than the tackler. If the tackler goes high then they will be fended which is what has happened in the frame above. If they go lower – ribs, hips, legs they can’t be fended off like this. So this is the transaction that takes place when the tackler tries to prevent the offload and go high. I reckon its fair game.

    • Who?

      It’s absolutely fine in senior rugby. I remember seeing one game where Giteau ran up hard at a stationary Schalk Burger who crooked those fingers so they’d bite in as he fended Giteau’s face (he was stationary, he had time to line up his tackler).
      It’s illegal to fend to the face in Juniors (up to U12), but even there it’s never penalized. My rule of thumb is the direction of the arm. If the arm’s pointing down, fair enough. If it’s level, 50-50. If the arm is reaching up to the tackler, it’s dirty, and should be penalized (U12’s and below) or booed as being poor sportsmanship. Similar to the old interpretation around deliberate knock ons.

  • onlinesideline

    just watching the 2 red cards in bulls v higlanders match – OK he was consistent but geeze is this what rugby has come too – yellow at most IMO

    • Andy

      2 shoulder charges to the head so fare enough I reckon. Both were pretty brutal

      • Brisneyland Local

        In watching the replay, one recipient seemed to take his red card with a degree of grace (as much as one can when given their marching orders), the other not so much!

      • onlinesideline

        yeah maybe – on a second look

  • McWarren

    I’ll take that win. But ya know I wouldn’t be professional rugby player for love nor money now. commentators, journo’s, amateur rugby pundits, the bloke at the bar, the Sheila next too me at the trough all spew out the same hypocritical shit. That being the Reds just keep getting the wrong end of the refs stick, they just keep getting pinged for decisions that could go either way, the yellow cards are not deserving. And then in almost the same breath tell you it isn’t good enough, the Reds have to fix their discipline. Well what is it poor officiating or poor discipline?

    • first time long time

      I’m not sure McW but if we can finally convert even 80% of the chances we are creating, the penalties just won’t matter

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