The Rebels beat the Blues 20-10 on Saturday to claim their first ever win at Eden Park. DYLAN JACK reports.
It was only the Melbourne-based team’s second ever win in New Zealand and ended a 31-game losing streak for Australian teams in New Zealand.
A scoreline of 12-10 at half-time was largely reflective of the quality of rugby produced by both sides. While eager to spread the ball, neither team was able to string a consistent number of phases together.
Two tries from centre Billy Meakes, one in each half, was enough for the Rebels to claim an important win.
After the Blues went ahead with a Stephan Perofeta penalty, the Rebels had most of the territory and possession in the first half, hitting back when Meakes went over from close range after a number of forward carries.
The score stayed at 7-3 for most of the half, but the Blues regained the lead when Akira Ioane turned the ball over outside the Rebels 22 and centre Terrence Hepetema, in for the injured Sonny Bill Williams, threw a dummy to exploit a gap left by the Rebels defenders and score.
However, the Rebels had the final say of the half as some good hands from both backs and forwards released Dane Haylett-Petty out wide, who sprinted clear and dived in.
The visitors made a dream start to the second half as big wing Marika Koroibete gathered a grubber through from Haylett-Petty and put Meakes clear for his second of the match. Reece Hodge then kicked a long-range penalty to give the Rebels a handy 10-point lead.
The Blues had a good number of chances to get themselves back into the match but they were consistently let down by poor decision-making or execution.
Heading into the final 10 minutes, the Rebels camped down in the Blues 22, looking for a fourth try with Koroibete coming closest, only to be denied after putting a foot in touch.
Blues – Try: Terrence Hepetema. Conversion: Stephen Perofeta. Penalty: Perofeta.
Rebels – Tries: Billy Meakes (2), Dane Haylett Petty. Conversion: Reece Hodge. Penalty: Hodge.
Blues – 15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 Orbyn Leger, 12 Terrence Hepetema, 11 Tumua Manu, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Augustine Pulu (c), 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Matiaha Martin, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 Matt Moulds, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Subs: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Ben Nee-Nee, 20 Sione Havili, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 TJ Faiane.
Rebels – 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Tom English, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Reece Hodge, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Adam Coleman (c), 4 Matt Philip, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Fereti Sa’aga
Subs: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Ross Haylett-Petty, 21 Harrison Goddard, 22 Tayler Adams, 23 Lopeti Timani
Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images