Super Rugby

Rebels defeat spirited Western Force in eventful thriller

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The Melbourne Rebels edged the Western Force 7-10 in an eventful but low-scoring Round Four Super Rugby AU clash at HBF Park, Perth.

The Rebels held on in a thrilling finale after floodlight failure brought the game to a stand-still in the 73rd-minute to claim a hard-fought win in Western Australia.

Lachlan Anderson and Joe Powell crossed for Melbourne to open up a two-score 10-point lead. But Jack McGregor’s 69th-minute try shifted momentum to the hosts in a tense final 10 minutes.

The Western Force had lost all five of their previous home games in Super Rugby AU and scored an average of just nine points per game in that stretch – an omen that did not bode well for the west coast side.

Ross Haylett-Petty’s red card for foul play in the build-up to McGregor’s try saw the visitors play out the rest of the game with 14 men.

The try and card made for a frenetic end to a tight, but exciting Super Rugby AU game. The Western Force camped inside the Rebels’ 22 for the remainder of the game.

With less than three minutes to play, the Force were awarded a kickable penalty that would have levelled the scores. They, instead, opted for a scrum because of the extra man advantage.

It was a poor call, one that backfired. The Rebels pack slowed the game down, taking time to get ready for the scrum. The final set-piece had to be reset several times as the clock ticked down.

Eventually, referee Graham Cooper decided he had seen enough, awarding a game-clinching penalty to the Rebels’ pack.

The home crowd was not pleased, venting their frustration at the referee, their team, and the opposition with a chorus of boos.

Both teams had lost four of their previous five Super Rugby AU matches. After today’s result, they each have two wins in this year’s Super Rugby edition.

The win elevates the Rebels above the Force, who drop into the fourth spot above the winless Waratahs.

A low-scoring contest is dominated by the visitors as the home team struggled in every department

Melbourne took a slender five-point lead into the shed; however, for all their dominance in a one-sided half, they could only muster a single try.

The first-half only saw one try despite the overwhelming discrepancy in possession and territory between the teams. The Rebels enjoyed 61% possession and 75% territory but only had Anderson’s 29th-minute try to show for their efforts.

Both teams conceded too many turnovers (Force 12, Rebels 10), especially inside the opposition’s 22, although the tackling was solid.

Super Rugby AU Round Four Video Highlights: Western Force vs Melbourne Rebels, HBF Park, Perth

It was in the set-pieces that Tim Sampson’s side struggled. His pack gave up a tighthead on their try-line that went unpunished as well as a scrum-penalty with the first scrum of the game.

The lineout did not fair too well either as the hosts lost three of 10 in the opening stanza. The set-piece errors proved costly as they all came inside the opposition’s 22.

Ten minutes in, Joshua Kemeny went close but was ruled short of the line by the TMO after a messy driving maul by the Rebels.

For some reason, both captains decided not to take the points when given an opportunity, although Jake McIntyre did miss a very kickable 21st-minute penalty.

Four minutes later, James Hanson knocked the ball on trying to score after Tom Pincus went close. Somehow, the Rebels won the scrum because Rob Kearney brought the ball back over the Force’s try-line to concede the turnover.

Wessels’ men did not score. They did, however, cross moments later when Reece Hodge sent Anderson over in the corner.

The Force had a chance before the break, but a poor driving maul was held-up by the Rebels’ pack.

Rebels own the third quarter but struggle to kill the game as they waste chances, and the Force fight back

The Force continued to eschew the points after the restart, but fortunately for the Perth-based franchise, the Victorian team could not capitalise.

The second-half stats favoured the hosts, but only because the visitors played with a man down at the end of the game.

Sampson’s charges flipped both possession (61%) and territory (63%); however, most of this came in the final 20 minutes.

That they failed to make their opponents pay while conceding another try, is profligate at best, negligent at worst.

Matt To’omua did not convert Anderson’s try, and the standoff hit the woodwork with a 53rd-minute penalty attempt. Points were hard to come by. Both sides defending stoutly but attacking execution continued to fail them.

Early in the last quarter, Powell doubled his team’s lead. The try was made by wrecking machine Marika Koroibete, who slipped a couple of tackles before sending the scrumhalf away down the lefthand touchline for his 10th Super Rugby try.

Koroibete had another influential game. The 28-year-old winger set-up a try, making 109 metres on 11 runs with three line-breaks and three offloads while beating six defenders.

To’omua missed from wide, keeping the hosts in the game; however, the hosts finally found their way over the line.

On 67 minutes, the Force was held-up over the line, but they came roaring back to score after a scintillating piece of play between backs and forwards.

The ball was sent through the hands after a mini-break –– and sublime offload –– by McIntyre opened up the visitors, ending with McGregor scoring in the corner to halve the deficit.

Ian Prior converted from the touchline to make it a three-point ball-game with less than 10 minutes to play.

To make matters worse for the Rebels, they had Haylett-Petty sent-off for a dangerous tackle in the build-up to McGregor’s score.

Floodlight failure causes confusion

Despite the low score, this game had it all. With seven minutes remaining, the game was halted after floodlight failure.

As the players tried to stay warm, the Super Rugby officials scrambled for the competition rule book to try and figure out how to proceed.

After several minutes, the officials decided to play on without all the lights working. With three minutes to play, the home team won a penalty after spending an age inside the Rebels’ 22.

The Force opted for an attacking scrum instead of taking the points. It was a mistake because the Rebels ran the clock down.

After several resets, the referee decided the Force infringed, and with that, the game was up.

Final Score: Western Force 7 (0) Melbourne Rebels 10 (5)

Scorers

Western Force
Tries – McGregor
Pen –
Con – Prior
Drop –
Cards –

Rebels
Tries – Anderson, Powell
Pen –
Con –
Drop –
Cards – R. Haylett-Petty (Red, 70′)

Match Officials
Referee: Graham Cooper
Assistant Ref 1: Reuben Keane
Assistant Ref 2: Brett Cronan
TMO: Kyle Burnett

Teams

Western Force

15 Rob Kearney, 14 Byron Ralston, 13 Tevita Kuridrani. 12 Richard Kahui, 11 Marcel Brache, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Brynard Stander (captain), 7 Kane Koteka, 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 5 Ryan McCauley, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Feleti Kaitu’u, 1 Tom Robertson

Replacements:
 16 Jack Winchester, 17 Angus Wagner, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Sitaleki Timani, 20 Tomas Lezana, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Henry Taefu, 23 Jack McGregor

Melbourne Rebels

15 Tom Pincus, 14 Lachlan Anderson, 13 Stacey Ili, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Matt To’omua (captain), 9 Joe Powell, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Joshua Kemeny, 5 Trevor Hosea, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Pone Faamausili, 2 James Hanson, 1 Cabous Eloff

Replacements: 16 Ed Craig, 17 Isaac Aedo Kailea, 18 Lucio Sordoni, 19 Steve Cummins, 20 Tom Nowlan 21 Glen Vaihu, 22 James Tuttle, 23 Frank Lomani

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