Brumbies resist Rebels

The Brumbies scored two unanswered tries to beat the Rebels 20-15 in Melbourne, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.

The visitors lived off scraps of possession for large periods of Saturday's match, but scored the only try of the first half through a planned set-piece move and got over again in the second when they were up against 14 men.

The win sees the Brumbies extend their lead at the top of the Australian conference, with the Rebels slipping to third following two successive defeats.

This was an Australian derby that never sparked into life, partly due to the rain that fell during the second half.

Penalties from Mike Harris and Christian Leali'ifano saw the teams locked at 3-3 at the end of a tightly-contested first quarter, before the Brumbies struck from a six-man lineout inside the Rebels' 22. It looked as if the visitors would launch a driving maul, but Jarrad Butler broke away quickly and threw a flat pass to Tevita Kuridrani, who came in on the perfect angle to score.

Leali'ifano kicked the conversion and then added a penalty after Scott Higginbotham was pinged for not rolling away and the Rebels were given a team warning by the referee.

The hosts spent the last 10 minutes of the half camped inside the opposition 22, but were only able to come away with another Harris penalty that made it 13-6 at the break.

The Rebels turned down a certain three points early in the second half, opting to go for the scrum and push for the try, only for Higginbotham to knock on. The next time they were awarded a kickable penalty, the captain pointed to the posts and Harris reduced the deficit to four.

But the Rebels were then reduced to 14 men when Higginbotham was sin-binned for collapsing a maul. The Brumbies kicked for the corner, won the lineout and Butler went over from the driving maul.

Harris's fourth penalty made it 20-12, before Butler was denied another try from a driving maul when the TMO ruled he had lost the ball just before the line.

It was the Brumbies who played the last five minutes of the match with a man down when Sam Carter was yellow-carded for a professional foul.

Harris kicked the penalty to bring the Rebels back to within striking range, before Nic White's long-range attempt fell short for the Brumbies.

There was more drama to come as, with time up, another powerful Rebels scrum on Brumbies ball resulted in a penalty. Fifteen phases later and the hosts were awarded a penalty 10m out from the Brumbies line, but Sean McMahon knocked on in the tackle soon after his side had taken the quick tap, and the final whistle went.

Rebels – Penalties: Mike Harris (5).
Brumbies – Tries: Tevita Kuridrani, Jarrad Butler. Conversions: Christian Leali'ifano (2). Penalties: Leali'ifano (2).

Rebels – 15 Mike Harris, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Colby Fainga'a, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Subs: 16 Ben Whittaker, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Scott Fuglistaller, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Sefanaia Naivalu.

Brumbies – 15 Robbie Coleman, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Leali'ifano, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 JP Smith, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Jordan Smiler, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 James Dargaville, 23 Jesse Mogg.

Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

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Simon Borchardt