The gap between the Rebels and the South African opposition isn’t closing.
A terrific defensive effort and a clinic execution in attack gave the Stormers a deserved 41-24 win in Melbourne to end their Australasian tour.
The Stormers’ were without Springboks Kolisi, Etzebeth and du Toit, but could still outmuscle their opponents and outscore them five tries to three.
The Rebels could not unlock the Stormers’ defence and were often forced to kick the ball away in open play. Genia and Cooper weren’t as usual and couldn’t spark the back line. The Rebels pack were simply outclassed by their more physical opponents, and could not unlock the backline stars.
The Stormers were the first team on the board after just 3 minutes thanks to a piece of individual brilliance from winger Leyds who collected a loose ball in midfield and catch the Rebels defence completely off-guard.
With both team incapable of gaining meters with the ball in hand, a series of kicks in open play and handling errors frustrated the spectators until the 23rd minute when finally the scoreboard moved again.
A penalty at the line out, the second in 5 minutes, gave Quade Cooper an easy kick 25 meter shot dead in front of the sticks and he didn’t miss.
The Rebels conceded straight back after the kick off a very kickable penalty from the opposite position and Du Plessis pushed the scores out to 10 – 3 Stormers.
Youngster Semisi Tupou, in his run on debut, had a chance to score when Cooper directed a kick to him 2 meters from the try line, but the winger couldn’t control the ball and the Stormers gained a scrum at the 5 meters.
The Rebels’ scrum was perfect in forcing a penalty on the opposition but after 13 phases the home team couldn’t break the defensive line.
First half score: Rebels 3 – Stormers 10
After just 40 seconds Hodge intercepted a loose pass from Du Plessis and scored untouched under the posts to draw the scores after Coopers’ simple conversion.
The Stormers lost their number 8 on the re-start, who was taken out of the pitch with a suspected broken ACL. His replacement, Augustus was soon on the board with his first Super Rugby try when he collected a nice pass from the Stormers fullback, flying past Genia on the way to the line.
The Rebels defence was again caught off-guard and veteran Springbok De Allende made it 3 for the visitors within 2 minutes from Augustus’ try.
A poor restart from Cooper gave the Storms a scrum right on the halfway line. The Storworkedworkd some magic in open play, scoring their third try in 9 minutes. The game was slipping away for the Rebels, and fast.
Even the cross bar favoured the visitors. a Penalty kick right on the half-way line from Stander’s bounced on the bar, then open the line.
Genia put the Rebels back on the scoreboard with a swift movement from a line out to give his team a chance. Magnay’s try with 4 minutes to play gave more hope to the home supporters, but it was Nel intercept five pointer to end the Rebels’ comeback.
The Game Changer
After Hodge try at the start of the second half the momentum seemed to favour the Rebels, but three tries in less than ten minutes handed the match to the Stormers. Augustus, De Allende and Nel were clinical in their execution.
The G&GR MOTM
The Stormers front row ruled the game, hooker Mbonami won several penalties for his team at the breakdown, but it was captain Kitshoff to inspire his team to a very impressive defensive effort.
Very difficult to find a standout Wallaby prospect in a losing side, Tupou had a positive run on debut, but he is a couple of years away of being called in the Green and Gold. Meakes, normally pushing for a spot in the Wallabies, wasn’t as impressive as usual. Cottrell had a solid game, but he was outmuscled by his counterparts. The player that should be on Cheika’s radar is number 8, Isi Naisarani.
Score & Scorers
Melbroune Rebels 24 (3):
Try: Hodge, Genia, Magnay
Conv.: Cooper 3/3
Pen.: Cooper 1/1
Stormers 41 (10):
Try: Nel (2), Leyds, Augustus, De Allende
Conv.: Du Plessis 3/3, Stander 2/2
Pen.: Du Plessis 1/1, Stander 1/1
Cards & citings