The Rebels defeated the Reds 23-15 in Melbourne to secure their third win of the season, reports MARIETTE ADAMS.
The Reds played their best rugby of the campaign in the opening 20 minutes, with Will Genia, James Horwill, Quade Cooper and Liam Gill all showing glimses of their attacking abilities. The hosts, though, weren't far off the pace and made up for what they lacked in defence through attack. However, what looked set to be a great contest, was ruined when Horwill was red-carded following a cheap shot to the head of Rebels prop Paul Alo-Emile.
Horwill had given the Reds an early lead when he ran a good line onto Genia's pop pass to crash over the line, before stern defence denied the Rebels at the other end. However, Gill was pinged for a breakdown infringement and fullback Mike Harris got the Rebels on the board with a penalty.
A try by Jake Schatz extended the Reds' lead, when Gill instinctively changed the direction of play to the blind side where he rounded Nic Stirzaker before releasing Schatz for the score. Cooper converted and they led 12-3. But with everything going their way, Horwill decided to enter a ruck with a swinging arm to Alo-Emile's head and was given his marching orders.
This brought the hosts back into the match, who turned down multiple shots at goal in search of maximum points. They camped on the Reds line and it paid dividends when lock Lopeti Timani burrowed over from the back of a driving maul. Cooper added another penalty goal for the Reds, who were happy to take any points on offer on their rare visits to the oppostion territory. But their defence crumbled two minutes later, when a decoy run by Luke Jones, allowed Tom English to score a try to draw level at 15-15 going into half-time.
The second half was more structured than the first and considering they were a man down from the 20th minute, the Reds did well to keep the Rebels out for the most of the half. But in the 65th minute they could do nothing to stop Stirzaker's try. Right wing Sefanaia Naivalu received the ball out wide and cut inside to beat three defenders to set up the try that gave them the lead for the first time in the match.
Harris missed the conversion, but later nailed a penalty, as the Rebels secured their first ever home win and second overall against the Reds.
Rebels – Tries: Lopeti Timani, Tom English, Nic Stirzaker. Conversion: Mike Harris. Penalties: Harris (2).
Reds – Tries: James Horwill, Jake Schatz. Conversion: Quade Cooper. Penalty: Cooper.
Rebels – 15 Mike Harris, 14 Tom English, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Sefanaia Naivalu, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Subs: 16 Tom Sexton, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Tim Metcher, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Colby Fainga'a, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Jordy Reid, 23 Bryce Hegarty
Reds – 15 Lachie Turner, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Anthony Fainga’a, 11 James O’Connor, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 James Horwill, 4 Dave McDuling, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 James Hanson, 1 James Slipper (c).
Subs: 16 Ben Daley, 17 Saia Fainga’a, 18 Sef Faagase, 19 Marco Kotze, 20 Curtis Browning, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Chris Kuridrani, 23 Karmichael Hunt.
Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images