Isi Naisarani scored a try in Super Time to guide the Rebels to a stunning 25-20 victory over the Western Force in Sydney on Friday.
Having gone into the last 10 minutes locked at 20-20, both sides had and missed an opportunity to go ahead, which sent the game into Super Time. And failure to secure the possession from kick off cost the Force dearly as they the Rebels pounced and surged forward to grab the match-winning try.
It is the first time the Rebels, who beat the Waratahs last weekend, have clinched consecutive wins in Super Rugby AU.
In an error-ridden first half in which ill-discipline effected the flow of the game, the Force took an early 10-0 lead thanks to a converted try from lock Fergus Lee Warner and a penalty kick.
But that’s been the tale of Force’s campaign: getting good starts and then losing their way after. They led 14-0 in their two opening matches and lost. And here again, they had their advantage wiped out as the Rebels were able to level matters with a long range penalty from Reece Hodge on the stroke of half-time and a converted try earlier.
The sides went blow for blow in the first 25 minutes of the second half as the same scoring pattern followed with a converted try and a penalty either way kept them locked at 20-20.
The Rebels struggled to retain possession, allowing the Force to dictate play in the final quarter of the game. However, when the Rebels succumbed to the pressure and conceded a penalty inside the 22, the Force had an opportunity to regain the lead with four minutes remaining. But Jono Lance hooked his attempt horribly.
At the other end, the Rebels somehow won possession and forced a penalty from about 60m out. Hodge lined up the kick but although he had the direction, he didn’t have the power as the ball dipped just in front of the crossbar to send the game into Super Time.
From there, the Rebels fortuitously regained possession and surged toward the tryline with Naisarani crashing over to score.
Force – Tries: Fergus Lee Warner, Byron Ralston. Conversions: Jono Lance (2). Penalties: Lance (2).
Rebels – Tries: Jordan Uelese, Matt Philip, Isi Naisarani. Conversions: Matt Toomua (2). Penalties: Reece Hodge, Toomua.
Western Force – 15 Jack McGregor, 14 Byron Ralston, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Richard Kahui, 12 11 Marcel Brache, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Brynard Stander, 7 Tevin Ferris, 6 Henry Stowers, 5 Fergus Lee Warner, 4 Jeremy Thrush (c), 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Feleti Kaitu’u, 1 Chris Heiberg.
Subs: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Tom Sheminant, 19 Johan Bardoul, 20 Ollie Callan, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Henry Taefu, 23 Brad Lacey.
Melbourne Rebels – 15 Reece Hodge (cc), 14 Tom Pincus, 13 Andrew Kellaway, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Matt Toomua (cc), 9 Ryan Louwrens, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Michael Wells, 5 Trevor Hosea, 4 Esei Haangana, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Cameron Orr.
Subs: 16 Efitusi Ma’afu, 17 Cabous Eloff, 18 Pone Fa’amaluli, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Rob Leota, 21 Brad Wilkin, 22 Frank Lomani, 23 Andrew Deegan.
Photo: Getty Images