Review: Rebels beat Force in another heartbreaker - Green and Gold Rugby

Review: Rebels beat Force in another heartbreaker

Review: Rebels beat Force in another heartbreaker

In a tight and at times scrappy contest, the Rebels outlasted the Force at NIB stadium this afternoon.

The Rebels rocketed out of the gate and score a couple of early tries and good ones they were too. The big boys punched it up in the middle of the paddock, leading to the first try from Cadeyrn Neville when they were getting consistently over the gain line. After that, the sublime skills of Kurtley Beale got the ball wide at pace and caught a slow moving Force defence out on at least two occasions. At this stage it looked like one way traffic and it took the Force a good while to get their hands on the pill in any meaningful sense and in decent field position.

Beale appeared to have the ball on a string in the first half and was a constant threat. The passing was fluid and the forwards did their part by securing quick ball at the breakdown to mount wave after wave on attack. Fortunately for the Force, they were able to steady the ship to a degree and run up some points, because they looked seriously under siege for almost all of the first 40 minutes. Some moments of individual brilliance kept them in the game, especially in the form of line breaks from Tupou, Seymour and Nalaga. Had they been able to move the ball in a sharper manner there may have been further opportunities as well. With that said, the Rebels looked capable of scoring with every possession for long periods of the game, especially in the first half.

Whatever Phil Blake said to the Force players at half time seemed to work for a time, as they not only kept the Rebels attack relatively quiet, they were able to score themselves. Once again, however, the third Force try came from a movement that fell apart in an almost comical fashion until Mafi took matters into his own hands and ran a great line against the grain and scored near the posts. It was typical of the one-out stuff in attack that the Force have relied upon for much of the season. The passing is going to have to get better than this next year if they are to be any hope of making it out of the cellar. The other aspect that is frustrating to watch is the amount of time that the ball is getting of ball being thrown to a stationary tight forward wide of the ruck. This, in almost every case, is suffocating the potential attack before it even gets started. By comparison, the Rebels seem to have a much better handle on getting their big guys running through these midfield channels and getting the defence backpedalling — something that they were able to do on numerous occasions today.

The breakdown was an interesting battle and one where I thought the Rebels did enough to at least break even, thus providing their backline with enough quick ball to ask questions of the Force defence. The tight stuff I would give to the Force on points, though apart from a few scrums it wasn’t what you would call dominance. The Rebels pack did enough at the right times to keep their time in front for most of the game and especially when it counted at the end.

For the Force it was the same old song of not being able to exert enough pressure for long enough to convert possession into points (three tries notwithstanding). The defence from the Rebels was breached enough that a team with slicker hands probably woud have scored more, but the Force just weren’t able to string enough good passes together to get them over the line. They should study one move from the second half, however. They won the ball from a midfield turnover and ran a simple catch and pass movement, getting the ball to Nalaga, who duly broke the line and got them going. Why we don’t see more of this fundamental stuff is a mystery to me, because it flat out worked.


The Result

Rebels 32 (Neville 2, Delve, Vuna tries; Beale 3 convs; Beale 2 pens) beat Force 31 (Nalaga, McCalman, Mafi tries; Harvey, Seymour convs; Harvey, Sheehan, Seymour 2 pens)
Ref: Marius Jonker

The Damage

Salesi Ma’afu looked to be in a world of trouble at half time after a collapsed scrum. He got up, however and ran out most of the rest of the game. Kurtley Beale also looked in strife with a hand injury after another electric line break in the second half. He finished the game in the end and continued to be influential.


The Moment

Nearing the last ten minutes of the game, Matt Hodgson gave away a penalty and got carded for sticking his foot out as Nick Phipps was trying to clear the ball from the back of a ruck. It turned the game back the Rebels way, after they had been under the pump for a period of time. It also allowed the Rebels scrum to gain the ascendency while they were a man up, which won them at least one other penalty. They got in front right near the end and that’s all she wrote.


The Man

Kurtley Beale, though he had some competition from the Rebels locking pair. He was masterful in attack, with some terrific flat passing that led to a couple of tries, took the line on and kicked when appropriate. He really has matured considerably in the last couple of seasons, to the point where I could definitely see him playing 10 for the Wallabies if required. This would leave the problem of who would play fullback, but that’s a question for another day. I’m a big fan.

The Talking Point

In contrast to the game involving the Stormers a few weeks ago, it was the weather and this time for a positive reason. It was an absolutely glorious day for rugby today. At the risk of boring our readers to death with an oft-repeated point, but gee isn’t it great to have afternoon games in Super Rugby. I understand the reasons why we don’t, but it doesn’t stop me from wishing we had more. The footy sometimes even lived up to the conditions as well.

  • Country Kid

    Thanks TBH

    Yes, it almost seems like a cruel joke that the Force recruit a high profile winger (Nalaga) and then seemingly go out of their way to not pass the ball to him.

    When the ball went through the hands to Nalaga, I thought at last, please do it again soon. They really need to bring him into the game more. Seymour, the number 10 looked pretty good – maybe he can start to work up a combination with Nalaga.

  • aussie werewolf in london

    I liked the crash tackling of Tupou and also his good run which led to a try. Outside centre is an area the wallabies need depth so I hope he can continue to impress and maybe get a bit of time for the wallabies.

  • johnny-boy

    If Matt Hodgson is rated as the next best thing after Pocock we are in trouble. A childish, negligent penalty to give away especially when your team is striving to save a game late. Brainless and unprofessional. Next contestant please. Fitness must be a problem for the Force and Rebels because error rate was appalling in the second half.

    • Seb V

      Dont think he’s rated the next best thing to Pocock, especially not this year at least. The honours would go to Gill or Hooper!

  • chick

    I noticed at the end of the game when the TV cameras showed the Force bench, the look of devastation and disappointment of the young players – much likes scenes of the losing team after a grandfinal.

    It gives me hope that the Force do indeed have the ‘want’ and necessary ‘team feeling’ to win, they just can’t take a trick and aren’t helped by the off field distractions during the season or at times poor decision making on field.

    Once they work out how to translate this feeling to onfield performance, they will come good. A more structured coaching staff (or in fact, an appointed coaching staff) will help and hopefully give them the direction they need. Without this, it will indeed be a very long season.

  • valzc

    You might want to look a little more closely at Phipps milking that yellow card incident (pretty hard done by Force!). Also the last scrum by the Rebels (as throughout the game) looked a bit sus with the Rebels – Ma’afu suddenly had nothing to push against and fell flat on his face. Something the Rebels have been doing for a number of games when they can’t match the other team’s scrum!


      TBH – a good wrap up of what was yet another forgettable match for the Force.

      Hodgson looked tired and caught again on the wrong side of the breakdown with no real excuse for having his leg in the air.

      If he’d tried to kick the ball it was worth a yellow card – but was stationary so a penalty would have been appropriate. Marius let worse Rebel transgressions pass without even penalty. The sin-binning spoiled the last 15 minutes of what had been an entertaining game on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Perth.

      The Force lost two opportunities to put pressure on the Rebels with kicks to the corner/linouts and chances to create a worthwhile lead but opted for cheap penalty goal points instead.

      Their 7 bonus points says it all – close but not good enough. A net +9 points against the Reds and <5 point losses against the rest of the Aussie teams. Other games blow-outs due to 15-20 minutes of going walkabout during the games. The recent 42 point capitulation against the Sharks no worse that the Reds 8-61 against the Bulls.

      The Force just have to turn possession and territory into points on the board but are lacking penetrating centres and coherence/consistency from the backs.

  • Seb V

    the revelation of Beale at flyhalf definitely opens up some options for the wallabies. If Beale is at flyhalf who will be fullback u ask? I think we have some nice contenders for the spot in Mogg and Foley. Gerrard is in pretty damn good form too i may add.

    • Patrick

      Also he and QC can swap between the two positions, like Mark and Glen Ella used to.

      Or JO’C could presumably play there? Mogg is a few years off at least I would have thought.

      • Cantab

        James o’connor would seem the obvious choice to me.

  • Justtacklehim

    Ma’afu is a mindless thug who costs his team penalties and points every game. The cheap shot after Mafi’s try has no place in the game.
    The Rebels got a penalty at half-way and Gerrard put them 5 metres out with an amazing kick. If it wasn’t for poor line-out execution, the Rebels would have scored a try and their hardwork erased.
    Ma’afu is Australia’s modern day answer to Richard Lowe. Get him out of the game.

  • Peter Robson

    Well done the Rebels – for the first half anyway. They only just deserved the win in the end. The Force may be regretting signing that fullback for two more years.

    A little while ago, Pocock was being held up as a future Wallaby captain. He is a great No 7 and no doubt an all round decent bloke, but I thought he was going to cry when interviewed after the match. There’s not enough mongrel in him for the top job – Hooper or Gill look better suited to that role in the future – or maybe Caderyn Neville!

    • Justin

      Nice one mate. The man’s been carrying the organisation, not to mention the side through what has been one of the worst seasons off the field. He’s captain, coach and recruiter. Ridiculous to say his distress is a reason he shouldn’t be captain – maybe just indicative of both his love for the club and his absolute frustration and inability to do anything about the strife they are in (not because he personal flaws but because the organisation is a joke that hangs their players out to dry).

    • Force Fan

      Peter Robson you are a clown!! Pocock is totally shattered carrying a club that is at best a basket case and not because they aren’t trying theri guts out. You need to look to the mob who are running the club to find out why Pocock is so shattered. This team has character and he was gutted for the team falling short again. No one is arguing that there is a skill problem, attention problem, execution problem, but I was right behind the force bench on Sunday and witnessed their reactions, frankly mate you haven’t got a clue. It’s people like you that give decent blokes like David Pocock heartburn…..maybe you want to book an appointment with him one on one in a ruck or maul to find out just exactly how much mongrel there is in him. And why is it when a guy is totally gutted because they have lost…again that suddenly he is not capable, worthy of being captain, his response reflected the response of the whole team and then they spent 40 minutes signing autographs for many faithful fans who know a bit about a team with guts. You need to go back to wherever you came from, you are not fit to tie his boot laces…..

  • Tallboy

    Couldn’t agree more Justin.
    Peter do you think a guys obvious heartbreak at having lost disqualifies him from being a good captain? I’d much rather see my captain gutted at having just lost by a point, then having a few laughs and looking as though he couldn’t care less. A captain should take losing as personal, as should any player who wants to be the best.


The Brown Hornet, or TBH for short, is a rugby tragic from way back. It's hard not to be with rugby union being the greatest game on Earth. Growing up in the Southern states of Australia, it has often felt like exile, but the entry of the Force and then the Rebels has made union increasingly feel like a code that includes all of Australia now. I remain an ardent Force fan, but one without too much bias I hope.

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