Flyhalf Jack Debreczeni scored 20 points as the Rebels clinched a hard-fought 25-23 win over the Reds in Melbourne on Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
The win was the second of the season for the Rebels, and having travelled home after a disappointing loss to the Bulls last weekend, they would have been very pleased with the positive result. However, they certainly made mighty hard work of it after squandering a commanding lead early on, and in the end the hosts had to rely on a healthy dose of good fortune to hold off a Reds side that displayed immense character.
Ill-discipline, poor tackling and basic errors blighted the Reds’ play in the first half hour, and the Rebels duly racked up a 16-0 lead, with fullback Jonah Placid finishing off a well-worked try, while goal-kicker Debreczeni kept the scoreboard ticking over.
However, the Reds showed some much-needed fighting spirit as they made a strong finish to the first half, with scrumhalf Nick Frisby running a beautiful line to score after flanker Hendrik Tui had made a barnstorming break from within his own half.
A penalty before half-time enabled the Reds to reduce the deficit to just six points, a margin that hardly reflected the true nature of the first half.
The Rebels moved into a 22-13 lead after a couple of more penalties to Debreczeni after half-time, but the Reds got right back within striking range when hooker Andrew Ready scored from the back of a lineout drive just on the hour mark.
The Reds briefly took the lead when McIntyre slotted a 67th-minute penalty, but Debreczeni slotted his sixth penalty soon after to edge the hosts ahead. A decisive moment then saw Reds centre Anthony Faingaa sent to the sin bin, and despite a late surge from the visitors, the Rebels were able to do enough to claim an important victory.
Rebels – Tries: Jonah Placid. Conversion: Jack Debreczeni. Penalties: Debreczeni (6).
Reds – Tries: Nick Frisby, Andrew Ready. Conversions: Jake McIntyre (2). Penalties: McIntyre (3).
Rebels – 15 Jonah Placid, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English 10 Jack Debreczeni, 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 Leafa , 17 Cruze Ah Nau, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Steve Cummins, 21 Mick Snowden, 22 Dan Hawkins, 23 Kotaro Matsushima.
Reds – 15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Anthony Faingaa, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Waita Setu, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Rob Simmons (c), 4 Caderyn Neville, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 Sef Faagase. Subs: 16 Matt Mafi, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Ben Matwijow, 20 Curtis Browning, 21 Scott Gale, 22 Sam Greene, 23 Ayumu Goromaru.
Photo: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images