Super Rugby

Higginbotham sees Red in Rebels blowout




The Melbourne Rebels thrashed the Queensland Reds 45-19 at AAMI Park, Melbourne.

Scott Higginbotham was red-carded in the 10th-minute for a shoulder charge on Matt Philip’s head and the visitors never recovered, despite leading twice with 14 and 13 men on the pitch.

The records tumbled. The Rebels scored their most points and tries in a Super Rugby game, brushing aside the Reds with ease.

Will Genia starred in his first match, not in a Queensland jersey. The number nine dismantled his former team with astute kicking and excellent decision making.

Sefa Naivalu, Dane Haylett-Petty and Jack Debreczeni all grabbed a brace, while the kicked five conversions for a match-haul of 20 points.

Tom English also got in on the act with a first-half five-pointer.

The opening quarter was mistake-ridden and played at a slow pace with both teams missing early penalties.

It was the Reds captain’s sending off that changed the outlook and result although the visitors took an early 0-7 lead through Duncan Paia’aua.

Lukhan Tui was yellow-carded soon after for a tip-tackle on Rebels captain Adam Coleman.

The home team struck when Naivalu took Amanaki Mafi’s precise pass to level the scores.

Four tries were scored in the following eight minutes as the two teams exchanged blows.

Samu Kerevi restored the Reds lead, but Tom English’s try cancelled the centre’s five-pointer.

The move was started by Genia, whose quick-tap penalty and wide pass caught the Reds napping.

The Queenslanders were starting to look ragged which was expected having played with 13 men for 10 minutes.

Parity lasted less than 60 seconds as Naivalu crossed for his second try in the 33rd-minute giving the Rebels their first lead of the game.

With minutes remaining, Dave Wessels’ side sucked in the defenders from a driving maul, Genia sent the ball wide.

Reece Hodge’s cheeky offload to English set up Haylett-Petty for their fourth try. 

Debreczeni added his third conversion as the home team opened up a twelve-point gap at the break.

The second stanza opened much the same as the first one finished. Adam Korczyk was pinged at the breakdown and the Rebels kick to the corner.

From the resulting lineout, the Rebels shifted the ball wide, from one touchline to the next, dragging defenders out of position.

Several phases later, Debreczeni, from behind the ruck, changed the point of attack, went right to left and ghosted through the porous Reds defence.

Another successful conversion from the standoff made it 33-14, ending the game as a contest.

Haylett-Petty intercepted Jono Lance’s pass and raced away for his second.

By now, the Reds were a rabble. On 56 minutes, Debreczeni crossed for his double as the Rebels piled on the points.

Aidan Toua sent Chris Feauai-Sautia away, but it was no consolation.

Final score: Rebels 45 (26) Reds 19 (14)


Tries – Naivalu (2), English, Haylett-Petty (2), Debreczeni
Pen –
Con – Debreczeni (5)
Drop –
Cards –

Tries – Paia’aua,  Kerevi, Feauai-Sautia
Pen –
Con – Tuttle (2)
Drop –
Cards –  Higginbotham (Red, 10′), Tui (Yellow, 23′)

Match Officials
Referee: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
Assistant Ref 1: Nicholas Berry (Australia),
Assistant Ref 2: Jordan Way (Australia)
TMO: Ian Smith (Australia)


Melbourne Rebels

15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Tom English, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Sefa Naivalu, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Will Genia, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Angus Cottrell, 6 Lopeti Timani, 5 Adam Coleman (captain), 4 Matt Philip, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Tetera Faulkner.

Replacements: 16 Anaru Rangi, 17 Fereti Sa’aga, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Ross Haylett-Petty, 21 Michael Ruru, 22 Semisi Tupou, 23 Billy Meakes.


15 Aidan Toua, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Duncan Paia’aua, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Jono Lance, 9 James Tuttle, 8 Scott Higginbotham (captain), 7 Adam Korczyk, 6 Caleb Timu, 5 Lukhan Tui, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 James Slipper

Replacements: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 JP Smith, 18 Sef Fa’agase, 19 Kane Douglas, 20 Liam Wright, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Hamish Stewart, 23 Filipo Daugunu


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