Reece Hodge kicked a 78th minute penalty to hand the Rebels a 19-17 victory over the Brumbies in Melbourne on Saturday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
The Brumbies led by a point when the Rebels’ pack won a scrum penalty against the feed to give Hodge the opportunity to kick at goal. The fullback calmly stepped up to convert the attempt that sealed the Rebels’ first win of the season.
The result will be particularly pleasing for the Rebels, who are fighting for Super Rugby survival after their future in the competition was put under a cloud of uncertainty by the Australian Rugby Union.
Widely regarded as clear-cut favourites, the Brumbies were nowhere near their best. This defeat also brings to an end the Brumbies’ 10-match winning streak against Australian opposition.
A penalty by Hodge and a converted try by wing Sefa Naivalu, who shrugged off four attempted tackles, gave the Rebels a surprising 10-point lead after 14 minutes of play. But the hosts were their own worst enemies at times. They conceded two yellow cards simultaneously when both Colby Fainga’a and Lopeti Timani were penalised for foul play.
The two-man advantage created a window of opportunity for the Brumbies to impose themselves on the match. Henry Speight and Jarrad Butler breached the Rebels’ defensive line as the visitors took the lead for the first time in the game. But Hodge slotted another penalty on the stroke of half-time for a 13-12 scoreline in favour of the Rebels.
Ill-discipline and squandered scoring opportunities continued to hamper the Rebels in the second half. They conceded a third yellow card for an intentional knock down. With a man-over, the Brumbies created an overlap for Speight to finish in the corner.
The Rebels stayed in the contest with a third penalty from Hodge, which made it a one-point game.
There was little to get excited about in the final quarter, until the dominant scrum by the Rebels’ forwards that enabled them to come away with an unlikely victory.
Rebels – Try: Sefa Naivalu. Conversion: Reece Hodge. Penalties: Hodge (4).
Brumbies – Tries: Henry Speight (2), Jarrad Butler. Conversion: Wharenui Hawera.
Rebels – 15 Reece Hodge, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Tom English, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Nic Stirzaker (c), 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Lopeti Timani, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Steve Cummins, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 James Hanson, 1 Fereti Sa’aga.
Subs: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Tom Moloney, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Culum Retallick, 20 Hugh Sinclair, 21 Mick Snowden, 22 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 23 Ben Volavola.
Brumbies – 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Andrew Smith, 11 Tom Banks, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Jarrad Butler, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter (c), 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Robbie Abel, 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Saia Fainga’a, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Tom Staniforth, 21 Tom Cusack, 22 De Wet Roos, 23 Jordan Jackson-Hope.
Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images