Super Rugby

Brumbies leave it late against resilient Rebels




The Brumbies beat the Melbourne Rebels 31-23 in a scrappy Super Rugby AU derby at chilly GIO Stadium, Canberra.

The victory sees the Brumbies go back-to-back against the Melbourne Rebels for the first time since 2015, outscoring the visitors five tries to two to open their Super Rugby AU account.

Both teams struggled with their rhythm following the long break due to COVID-19; however, the home team grew into the game, particularly either side of halftime.

First-half tries from Andy Muirhead, Joe Powell and the try-scoring machine Folau Fainga’a gave the Brumbies a comfortable lead at the interval.

Two Matt To’omua penalties were all the Rebels had to show for their effort despite dominating the set-pieces in the first stanza.

The Brumbies continued where they left off when Tom Wright scored four minutes after the restart.

It took Melbourne nearly an hour to get over the whitewash when Jordan Uelese flopped over the chalk following a powerful driving maul to keep the visitors in the game.

Dane Haylett-Petty walked over a few minutes later, and To’omua added the extras to make it a four-point game with less than a quarter of an hour remaining.

Dave Wessels’ men, cutting the gap to one, could not finish off the reeling Brumbies; instead, it was the hosts who finished the stronger.

With a couple of minutes to go, Will Miller crashed over from another driving maul after a mistake by the opposition led to a scrum-penalty, and attacking lineout.

The Rebels had no reply and no time to respond before the hooter sounded.

Brumbies take control of the game thanks to three first-half tries.

The Brumbies opened the scoring with an invasive lineout move that saw Muirhead take Fainga’a’s inside pass to open the scoring in the third minute.

To’omua, playing in his 100th Super Rugby match, put the visitors on the board with a penalty, six minutes later.

Super Rugby AU Round 1 Video Highlights: Brumbies versus Rebels at GIO Stadium, Canberra

The game, played with pace as both teams looked to spread the ball, was error-strewn, which is normal after such a long break from the competition.

To’omua missed a chance to reduce the gap to one in the 16th-minute when he pulled his kick wide of the posts.

A big scrum by the Rebels led to a scrum-penalty in front of the posts, but some questionable decision making saw them take a quick-tap before conceding a penalty a couple of phases later at the ruck.

The Brumbies pack struggled, concerning four scrum-penalties inside the opening 23 minutes.

Their ill-discipline kept them on the back-foot, leading to the referee to talk to captain Allan Alaalatoa.

To’omua knocked over the close-range goal to make it 7-6.

The Brumbies started to get their driving maul going. Another penalty was booted to the corner by Noah Lolesio just before the half-hour mark.

Dan McKeller’s side set-up a driving maul and powered towards the line.

Interestingly, as they walked the Rebels pack back, Powell opted to take possession and break to the blindside.

It was the correct call; he stepped inside two defenders and stretched over to score. Lolesio hit the post with the conversion attempt.

Fainga’a crashed over in the corner before the break.

Referee Angus Gardner had to have a word with the Wessels’ side as they shipped five in a row.

Powell made another sniping break, but the cover defence stopped him. The ball was recycled quickly, however, to the Fainga’a on the wing, for the home team’s third try.

Lolesio’s second conversion opened up a commanding 13-point lead at the break.

Brumbies put their foot on the gas after the interval, extending their lead.

It did not take long for McKellar’s charges to get their fourth try.

Lolesio made a linebreak and raced from halfway to the 22 before drawing Haylett-Petty and sending Wright away in the corner – it was superb from the stand-off.

The stand-off could not add the wide conversion, but the game was as good as over.

Melbourne’s talking was non-existent as they slipped tackles. The Brumbies kept coming, but the odd handling error scuppered scoring chances.

Melbourne fought back. They increased their energy and upped the tempo as they went in search of a score.

At long last, they crossed the chalk from an attacking lineout after Ryan Louwrens was illegally cleaned out at the previous ruck.

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Reece Hodge kicked to the corner, and the Rebels pack drove the opposition over their line. Hooker Uelese got up with the ball.

It was only the second driving maul try conceded by the Brumbies since the start of 2019.

To’omua kicked the wide conversion to keep his team in the contest.

Haylett-Petty scored his team’s second soon afterwards.

The momentum had changed; the Rebels kept the ball in hand, got on the front foot and went 15 phases before the fullback waltzed over untouched.

The Brumbies pack continued to struggle, conceding their sixth scrum-penalty in the 69th-minute, which allowed To’omua to reduce the gap to one.

With five minutes remaining Efitusi Maafu overthrew a lineout which led to a first scrum-penalty for the Brumbies.

Lolesio kicked to the corner, and his forwards did the rest. Easy as you like for replacement Miller, who scored his second try of the year.

Lolesio’s conversion made it a two-score game with two to play.

Melbourne launched one last attack, but Marika Koroibete was tackled into touch, and the game was done.

Final Score: Brumbies 31 (19) Rebels 23 (6)


Tries – Muirhead, Powell, Fainga’a, Wright, Miller
Pen –
Con – Lolesio (3)
Drop –
Cards –

Tries – Uelese, D. Haylett-Petty
Pen – To’omua (3)
Con – To’omua (2)
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant Ref 1: Amy Perrett
Assistant Ref 2: Reuben Keane
TMO: James Leckie



15 Mack Hansen, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Tom Wright, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Murray Douglas, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper.

Replacements: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Lachlan McCaffrey, 20 Will Miller, 21 Issak Fines, 22 Bayley Kuenzle, 23 Len Ikitau.


15 Dane Haylett-Petty (captain), 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Matt To’omua, 9 Ryan Louwrens, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Josh Kemeny, 5 Michael Stolberg, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Pone Fa’amausili, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Matt Gibbon.

Replacements: 16 Efitusi Maafu, 17 Cameron Orr, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Trevor Hosea, 20 Esei Haangana, 21 Rob Leota, 22 Frank Lomani, 23 Andrew Deegan.

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