There have been major shake ups in the Reds coaching staff this week and rumours of player dissatisfaction are rife. While down in Melbourne the Rebels are proudly having their best season EVER! A win tonight has them in uncharted territory while Richard Graham desperately needs a win to keep his employment hopes alive.
The match started tentatively with both teams feeling each other out. Nearly five minutes in the Reds were on attack in the Rebels 22 when they turned the ball over. The Rebels immediately moved the ball to the left wing and caught the Reds defence napping. Niavalu ran the ball the last sixty metres to score under the posts. The Reds had looked competitive until the 30 seconds it took to score that try.
Moments later the Rebels were hard on attack again with an overlap on the right wing and it was only a great tackle from Jake McIntyre that saved a certain try. There was no relief for the Reds as the resulting scrum ended in penalty to the Rebels and they pounded away at the Reds line for several minutes. The Reds finally turned the ball over and Karmichael Hunt punted the ball deep into Rebels territory. The Reds spent the next five minutes in the Rebels 22 and finally scored from a ruck penalty. 20 minutes in the score was 3-7
The Reds started to concede penalties and gave the Rebels a free ride down to their 22. The third penalty conceded was in front of the posts and Mike Harris just doesn’t miss kicks from there. From the kick off the Reds seem to take their turn attacking the Rebels line. After nearly 20 phases the rebels conceded their own ruck penalty in front of the posts and the Reds snuck back to 6-10 behind.
Sefanaia Naivalu showed his devastating speed as the Rebels scored their second try from broken play. The Reds had kicked high into the midfield and the ball had bounced into the Rebels hand off a suspected knock on. The Rebels quickly moved the ball to the right and Sefanaia Naivalu sprinted down the touchline to score in the corner.
Rob Simmons burrowed over moments later after fantastic lead up work from James O’Connor and Chris Feauai-Sautia who both handled twice in the lead up play. The half time score was 11-17 to the Rebels.
The Reds were very competitive in the first half and only the individual brilliance of Sefanaia Naivalu has the Rebels in the lead. But they did have a lead and the Reds have faded badly in their second halves this year.
The Reds started the second half a lot better than in recent weeks. They managed to pin the Rebels in their own half and attack their line. Genia got quick ball off the back of a ruck and missed passed to Karmichael Hunt who ran to the line and passed in side to Jake McIntyre to score in his first Super Rugby game. O’Connor converted the try and the Reds took the lead 18-17 with 35 minutes to go.
The Reds pick and go was making them plenty of metres and their scrum was starting to dominate. The pressure paid dividends as Lachie Turner barged over from sustained pressure. A great off load from Greg Holmes made the overlap in the right corner and Turner took full advantage.
The Reds looked the best they had all year and the Rebels had no choice but to infringe to slow the ball down. Jack Debreczeni infringed once too often and was sent to the bin for ten minutes. The Reds kicked for the corner from the penalty and drove the lineout ball towards the line until Genia flicked it to the backs. Quick hands got scrappy ball to Chris Feauai-Sautia who beat his man to score in the corner.
The Reds were in again! A beautifully worked five metre scrum by both teams saw Will Genia run to the short blind side drawing all three defenders toward the touchline. Genia turned the ball inside to Lachie Turner to score twenty in from touch. James O’Connor’s eye was definitely in as he potted his fifth conversion.
The Rebels conceded yet another try! This time to Liam Gill. The Reds drove their lineout like they had all night but this time the Rebels had no answer. James O’Connor again kicked the conversion to stretch the score 46-17.
The Rebels fought back to score a try of their own putting Dom Shipperley into the corner to sneak the score up to 46-22 in the 72 minute. The Rebels comeback continued as Luke Jones got his first ever try. Harris converted and the Rebels salvaged a bonus point out of the game.
Final score 46-29 to the reds. What a difference a week has made. I’m gobsmacked and can’t believe the difference in the Reds after the drubbing the received in Christchurch last week.
The Game Changer
Early in the second half the Reds absolutely smashed a rebels scrum. Winning the tighthead and a penalty. The Reds kicked for the corner and from that moment on they were in complete control.
The G&GR MOTM
Jordy who? Liam Gill gave a master class in openside play tonight. He was everywhere. In tight he was pilfering and driving off the back of rucks and mauls. Out wide he was linking with the backs and drawing defenders. He is easily my MOTM
I’ve got to say I really liked Karmichael Hunt’s first run at outside centre. He threw the last pass for a try, was great in defence and kept the Rebels honest all night. Unpopular as he is with many punters I’ve still got to mention Will Genia who had a cracker.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Rob Simmons, Jake McIntyre, Lachie Turner 2, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Liam Gill
Conversions: James O’Connor 6/6
Penalties: James O’Connor 2/2
Tries: Sefanaia Naivalu 2, Dom Shipperley, Luke Jones
Conversions: Mike Harris 3/4
Penalties: Mike harris 1/2
Cards & citings
Jack Debreczeni (yc)