'We need to be better': Rebels smash sleepy Brumbies in the wet to breathe new life into comp

· Super Rugby - AU
by Christy Doran

Super Rugby AU has come to life to after the Melbourne Rebels stunned ladder-leaders the Brumbies in the wet 30-12 at Leichhardt Oval.

When Sydney-siders opened the curtains on Friday morning few would have wanted to get out of bed. On a wet and grey winter's day, it was a day to rug up and stay in doors and the Brumbies played like they were still half asleep.

The Brumbies trailed 27-7 at half time after the Rebels scored four tries to one. It could have been five had they capitalised on Tom Cusack's yellow card on the stroke of half time on his own line for failing to roll away.

Dan McKellar's men were beaten to just about everything against their southern rivals, who, by winning, handed Dave Wessels his 20th victory at the Rebels - a club record.

Twice Test fullback Tom Banks was beaten to the ball by a more desperate Rebel. On both occasions they resulted in tries.

Test duo Matt To'omua and Marika Koroibete were outstanding and benefited from the long passing game of Fijian international Frank Lomani at halfback, while another Wallaby, Reece Hodge, had one of his stronger performances in recent months too.

But it was the forward pack that outshone their fancied rivals.

Rebels lock Matt Philip was brilliant while their scrum bettered the Brumbies' all-Test front-row trio.

Injury-cursed back-rower Brad Wilkin scored in his return to the starting side and had an exceptional all-round game.

The 18-point win snapped their two-game losing streak to the Brumbies.

"I think we've beaten the Brumbies more than they've beaten us and I don't mean that in a bad way, we just feel confident to play them," Wessels said.

"We've been frustrated in the last couple of weeks that our game hasn't quite been where we need it to be, but the group's super engaged.

"Maybe I've been doing this too long, you can never get too up and never get too down; you're never as good as you think you are and you're never as bad as you think you are. It's somewhere in the middle and every week's a challenge. 

"That's a good Brumbies team and they'll be back, so I've got to be careful that I pay them the respect that they deserve because they're a good side."

Having been promoted to the starting side for just the second time in 2020, Rebels fly-half Andrew Deegan made a meal of his first attempted clearance by spilling the ball. But the playmaker earned a reprieve when Joe Powell was pinged at the breakdown a moment later.

From that point on Deegan steadied and so did the Rebels.

They scored in just the third minute through Reece Hodge who dived over out wide after some lovely quick hands from To'omua and Deegan.

The Rebels could hardly believe their luck after 15 minutes as Wilkin scored following some Marika Koroibete magic, who grubbered the ball twice ahead after Irae Simone's kick ricocheted off Campbell Magnay on his own 22 metre line and led to a coast to coast effort. To'omua's conversion saw the Rebels race out to a 12-0 lead.

Two minutes later and the Brumbies responded via their favourite rolling-maul. Except it wasn't hooker Folau Fainga'a that was on the end of the try as halfback Joe Powell pinched the ball and scored out wide.

Bayley Kuenzle's sideline conversion saw the Brumbies cut the score to 12-7.

It was the last joy for the Super Rugby AU leaders as the Rebels scored 18 unanswered points.

Hodge scored his double after 23 minutes and when Jordan Uelese scored second phase from a scrum the Brumbies were shocked to a standstill.

The Brumbies continued to bumble and fumble their way through the second half.

To'omua's second penalty of the evening stretched the lead out to 30-7 after 52 minutes.

Bank's miserable evening continued throughout the second half as he dropped one simple kick on his chest midway through the second half. It followed Solomone Kata's equally embarrassing drop in the first half.

Will Miller scored a late try for the Brumbies.

Next weekend's bye comes at a good time for the Brumbies while the Rebels will have the chance to prove themselves against the rising Reds in Brisbane.

McKellar didn't mince his words post-game, saying it was a good wake-up call for his side but he acknowledged the fine display by the Rebels.

"It's a good wake-up call," McKellar said.

"It's been a big month for us with travel challenges and that sort of thing and that's no excuse whatsoever, but it's been a big month and it's a good wake up call for us.

"We need to be better."

His captain Allan Alaalatoa agreed: "I'm pretty gutted, but as Dan said you've got to take your hat off to the opposition. They had a really good first-half, they kicked well, they pinned us down in our own end and we just had too many mistakes and they were good enough to capitalise on that." 



Tries: Hodge 2 (3, 23), Wilkin (15), Uelese (38)

Conversions: To'omua 2

Penalties: To'omua 2


Tries: Powell (16), Miller (80)

Conversions: Kuenzle