Debutant Reece Hodge scored 20 points as the Rebels beat the Force 25-19 in Perth on Saturday, writes MARIETTE ADAMS.
The Rebels got the job done to secure four vital log points in their opening game of the year, but ample handling errors, ill-discipline at the breakdown and the inability to finish off numerous chances were shown by both sides.
Hodge, who was set to start on the wing but shifted to fullback following the late withdrawal of Jack Debeczeni, opened the scoring for the visitors with a penalty, before Force flyhalf Jono Lance slotted two penalty goals.
Both teams continued to concede penalties and when yet another was awarded to the Rebels in the 30th minute, they set the lineout despite the set piece not functioning all that well. The decision was vindicated when they secured the ball, worked through a couple phases before Tamati Ellison’s straight running line cut the Force defence open. With the tryline calling, the centre then unselfishly passed to Hodge, who scored his first try.
The final 10 minutes of the half ended on a high, as first Lance went over for a converted try, before the Rebels wrestled back the ascendancy with a late converted effort from No 8 Adam Thomson.
The second half was equally substandard and both sides were forced into making a host of substitutions as several injuries occurred.
Lance added two more penalties either side of Hodge's one, as the hosts narrowed to deficit to 20-19 on the hour mark. But three minutes later, Ellison split the Force defence again. He dummied his way past two defenders and again found Hodge with the final pass for an unconverted try.
The match then fizzled out, with the Rebels content to defend their six-point advantage.
Force – Try: Jono Lance. Conversion: Lance. Penalties: Lance (4).
Rebels – Try: Reece Hodge (2), Adam Thomson. Conversions: Hodge (2). Penalty: Hodge (2).
Force – 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Marcel Brache, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Angus Cottrell, 7 Matt Hodgson, 6 Brynard Stander, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Steve Mafi, 3 Guy Millar, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan.
Subs: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Ross Haylett-Petty, 20 Chris Alcock, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Peter Grant, 23 Semisi Masirewa.
Rebels – 15 Reece Hodge, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Mike Harris, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Adam Thomson, 7 Sean McMahon (c), 6 Jordy Reid, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 James Hanson, 1 Toby Smith.
Subs: 16 Pat Leafu, 17 Cruze Ah Nau, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Steve Cummins, 20 Colby Fainga'a, 21 Mick Snowden, 22 Jonah Placid, 23 Dan Hawkins.
Photo: Paul Kane/Getty Images