Jack Debreczeni scored 16 points as the Rebels beat the Waratahs 21-17 in Sydney, writes MARIETTE ADAMS.
The Rebels were fully deserving of their first-ever win in Sydney, which keeps them second on the Australian conference log, behind only the Brumbies on points difference.
While the Waratahs staged a comeback in the second half, they were left rueing the poor defensive effort they put in the first half, as the 18-point deficit proved too great to overturn.
This was a typical Australian derby, dull and error-strewn with the only sparks coming from a couple of moments of individual brilliance.
Debreczeni and Bernard Foley punished some early ill-discipline with successful kicks at goal as the teams were deadlocked at 3-3 in the first quarter.
But with the visitors’ forwards dominating up front, they steadily, if unspectacularly, gained the ascendancy. Debreczeni crossed for the opening try of the match when he stepped his way past Waratahs prop Angus Ta’avao.
Waratahs castaway Lopeti Timani then went on a rampaging run in midfield, before finding a support runner in Toby Smith for the Rebels’ second try. Debreczeni, who also hails from Sydney but was overlooked by the Waratahs, added the conversion, followed by two further penalties which put the Rebels 21-3 up at the break.
The Waratahs’ handling didn’t improve in the second half, but the hosts did enjoy better field possession and in the 51st minute they were rewarded with a converted try by flank Jack Dempsey, igniting hopes of a comeback. But the energetic Rebels were compact in defence and denied the Waratahs more than once on the tryline.
It took a well-weighted crosskick and the lucky bounce of the ball for them to crack the Rebels defence in the 70th minute, when Matt Carraro dotted down for a converted effort.
Foley nailed the easy conversion, but the Rebels were not to be robbed of a historic win in Sydney. Despite conceding multiple penalties towards the end, their defence withstood the onslaught.
Waratahs – Tries: Jack Dempsey, Matt Carraro. Conversions: Bernard Foley (2). Penalty: Foley.
Rebels – Tries: Jack Debreczeni, Toby Smith. Conversion: Debreczeni. Penalties: Debreczeni (3).
Waratahs – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Reece Hodge, 13 Matt Carraro, 12 David Horwitz, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Jed Holloway, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Dave Dennis, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Hugh Roach, 1 Benn Robinson.
Subs: 16 James Hilterbrand, 17 Paddy Ryan, 18 Tom Robertson, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Sam Lousi, 21 Wycliff Palu, 22 Matt Lucas, 23 Andrew Kellaway.
Rebels – 15 Reece Hodge, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Cam Crawford, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Nic Stirzaker (c), 8 Adam Thomson, 7 Sean McMahon, 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 Scott Fuglistaller, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Dan Hawkins, 23 Sefa Naivalu.
Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images