Rebels 28 v 38 Waratahs
THE Waratahs have bounced back from a poor round one performance with a 38-28 victory over the Rebels at AAMI Park.
A DESPERATE Melbourne slipped to a tense Weary Dunlop Shield defeat by NSW last night, suffering cruelly at the hands of former Rebel Kurtley Beale’s wizardy.
Deadlocked at 28-all with only 13 minutes to play, Melbourne paid a high price for critical concentration and skill lapses late in the contest. Beale’s dazzling try – combined with Bernard Foley’s deadly boot – was enough to lift the reigning Super Rugby champion to a gritty 38-28 victory.
Melbourne had the chance to edge ahead after 70 minutes but Jack Debreczeni missed a penalty before a Sam Jeffries turnover left NSW off the hook. But having endured a string of heavy defeats to the Waratahs, the Rebels were marginally consoled by their first four-point bonus try in an Australian derby. “Credit to the Tahs, they hung in there at the back end of the match,” Melbourne co-captain Scott Higginbotham said.
“We missed a few one-on-one tackles and that cost us.” Eager to prove last week’s 20-10 win over last season’s runner-up Crusaders was no fluke, Melbourne again showed its stark improvement. But 27 missed tackles proved costly against a team coach Tony McGahan described pre-match as a Test team in blue. Tries to Stephen Hoiles, Taqele Naiyaravoro (two) and Beale were offset by Scott Higginbotham, Lopeti Timani, Luke Burgess and Sefanaia Naivulu’s efforts to cross.
Foley’s goal-kicking proved the difference – he missed only one of seven attempts – in a contest where marginal gains were gold. Predictably, physicality was the game’s strongest currency – and the brutality was unrelenting. NSW front-rowers Benn Robinson and Tatafu Polota-Nau and Beale were all forced to take concussion hits after shuddering hits.
Of the trio, only Beale was able to return – and immediately paraded his genius to engineer Hoiles’ try with a magnificent chip and pass. Boasting 13 Wallabies in its starting line-up, NSW was pounded repeatedly by the fired-up Rebels. By the end of the match, the Waratah’s forward pack had been shredded.
Docked repeatedly from offside infringements as they targeted former team-mate Nick Phipps, the Rebels slumped to a 16-7 deficit before Burgess’ quick thinking bailed them out.
The former Tahs’ scrumhalf seized on NSW uncertainty at a scrum deep in Melbourne territory, forced a turnover before Timani thundered over. Trailing by only two points at half-time despite being starved off possession – 34 percent to 66 – the Rebels were immediately under the pump on resuming. Winger Naiyaravoro capitalised on a vintage NSW rolling maul, slicing through out wide before Foley added the extras to regain a nine-point buffer.
Melbourne struck back, hammering the NSW line before Burgess darted over before Harris converted. Naiyaravoro’s second try was reward for NSW persistence before the winger was sin-binned for deliberate foul play. Melbourne pounced when dazed Harris found Naivulu with a looping pass before converting to level the contest after 68 minutes.
Beale then returned to haunt his old club before Foley twice landed goals to secure the win.
Waratahs – 38
Tries: Kurtley Beale (72) ,Taqele Naiyaravoro (60,42), Stephen Hoiles (21)
Penalties: Bernard Foley (77,32,4), Kurtley Beale (26)
Cons: Bernard Foley (74,43,22)
Rebels: 15 Mike Harris, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Ben Whittaker, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Scott Fuglistaller, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Sefanaia Naivalu.
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Taqele Naiyaravaro, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Stephen Hoiles, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 Will Skelton, 4 David Dennis (c), 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements : 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Mitchell Chapman, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Matt Carraro, 23 Pat McCutcheon, 24 Peter Betham.
Date: Friday, February 20
Venue: AAMI Stadium, Melbourne
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant Referees: James Leckie, Michael Hogan
TMO: Peter Marshall