Melbourne’s Rebels recovered from last week’s loss to the Hurricanes by beating the Cheetahs 36-14 at AAMI Stadium in Melbourne.
The Rebels outscored the Cheetahs by five tries to two and the winning margin was 20 points so only the Rebels earn the bonus point.
The victory puts the Rebels into the top spot in the Australian Conference and a point ahead of the Brumbies who effectively drop out of the play off places and down to 10th place overall.
The Rebels move up to fourth place which would earn them a home play off if the regular season ended this week.
The Rebels trailed 10-14 at half time but scored four tries in a commanding second half during which the Cheetahs were kept scoreless.
The Cheetahs opened the scoring in the 17th minute when they powered their way over the Rebels’ tryline via a maul. Hooker Torsten van Jaarsveld came up with the ball, before flyhalf Niel Marais added the two points from the kicking tee.
The Rebels, though, hit back a few minutes later when their impressive outside centre Reece Hodge broke the Cheetahs’ defensive line, before sprinting to the goalline to score. Flyhalf Jack Debreczeni converted the try to make it 7 all.
The Cheetahs looked full of running, and took back the lead in the 29th minute after fullback Clayton Blommetjies scored a superb team try that was started by an electrifying Raymond Rhule break.
Debreczeni added another penalty for the Rebels before halftime after the Cheetahs collapsed a scrum.
However, the visitors’ fell apart in the second half, as the home team started to press them with ball in hand. The Cheetahs’ set-piece also started creaking, especially at scrum time.
After an intense start to the second half, the Lopeti Timani went over the Rebels in the 42nd minute.
The Australian side then had to wait another 20 minutes for their next try, but it was worth it after Jonah Placid rounded off a great effort to score.
The Rebels put more daylight between them and the Cheetahs in the 69th minute when Hodge scored his second try of the match after another strong break in midfield.
Rebels centre Tamati Ellison then scored the bonus point try for the home side when he latched onto a loose pass by the Cheetahs to score underneath the posts.
Next week the Rebels travel to Auckland to face the Blues while the Cheetahs continue their tour of Australia with a match in Brisbane against the Reds.
Final Score Rebels 36 (10) Cheetahs 14 (14)
Tries – R.Hodge 2, L.Timani, J.Placid, T.Ellison
Pen – J.Debreczeni
Con – J.Debreczeni 4
Tries – T. van Jaarsveld, C.Blommetjies
Con – N.Marais 2
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant Ref 1:James Leckie
Assistant Ref 2:Angus Gardner
TMO : George Ayoub
1. Toby Smith , 2. James Hanson , 3. Laurie Weeks , 4. Luke Jones , 5. Lopeti Timani , 6. Jordy Reid , 7. Sean McMahon , 8. Adam Thomson , 9. Nic Stirzaker (captain) , 10. Jack Debreczeni , 11. Sefa Naivalu , 12. Tamati Ellison , 13. Reece Hodge , 14. Cam Crawford , 15. Jonah Placid
Replacements : 16. Pat Leafa , 17. Cruze Ah Nau , 18. Jamie Hagan , 19. Sam Jeffries , 20. Colby Fainga’a , 21. Ben Meehan , 22. Kotaro Matsushima , 23. Sione Tuipulotu.
1. Charles Marais , 2. Torsten van Jaarsveld , 3. Maks van Dyk , 4. Lodewyk de Jager (vc) , 5. Francois Uys , 6. Hilton Lobberts , 7. Uzair Cassiem , 8. Paul Schoeman , 9. Shaun Venter , 10. Neil Marais , 11. Raymond Rhule , 12. Francois Venter (C) , 13. Nico Lee , 14. Sergeal Petersen , 15. Clayton Blommetjies
Replacements: 16. Jacques du Toit , 17. Danie Mienie , 18. Luan de Bruin , 19. Carl Wegner , 20. Henco Venter , 21. Oupa Mohoje , 22. Tian Meyer , 23. Fred Zeilinga