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Rebels beat Force again

Sat, 06 Apr 2013 10:30
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That is four in a row for the men from Melbourne
Quote-end

The Rebels won a scrappy game against the Western Force in Perth on Saturday to record only their second victory of the season.

Outscoring the Force by four tries to three, they have beaten the men from Perth twice in one season for the second consecutive year - this triumph being by exactly the same score (30-23) that they won by in their Round One encounter in Melbourne back in February.

The Rebels have had the wood over the Force since they joined Super Rugby in 2011 - having now won five of their six encounters, including the last four.

Despite their poor record on the road - with just three wins from 20 starts - all the Rebels' away victories have been against the Force in Perth.

For the Rebels the victory will be welcome relief after their disastrous South African tour - where they shipped 98 points in defeats to the Sharks and Cheetahs.

It was a game of poor skills, also littered with errors and poor execution by both teams.

While there was plenty of movement and endeavour, which for some so-called pundits amounts to good entertainment value, it was not a good advert of the sport.

The Force had a strong scrum in the first half, but after the break ended up conceding  penalty at the set piece as they lost their concentration. Add to that a pretty scrappy line-out and they had to rely on broken play for most of their possession.

It did not help the Force that at times kickers Kyle Godwin, Sias Ebersohn and Sam Christie lost the plot and kept handing the visitors possession in attacking positions - often by poor execution and putting the ball directly into touch.

Ebersohn's erratic goal-kicking was also cause for concern - something which cost him his place in the Cheetahs team last year.

The Rebels raced into an early lead, 15-0 by the end of the first quarter, before the home team started finding a semblance of form and working their way back into the game.

Hugh Pyle got the Rebels on the scoreboard first, as the big lock used his strength to power over after a short run inside the Force 22.

James O'Connor, who missed the conversion, slotted a penalty in the 13th minute, as the Rebels took a 8-0 lead.

Sias Ebersohn had a chance to pull three back in the 15th minute, but his now infamous kicking blowouts came back to haunt him as he missed a very easy shot.

Jason Woodward then got his first Super Rugby try after a grubber took a wicket bounce and eluded Will Tupou, but sat up for the Rebels wing. This time O'Connor kicked the conversion - 15-0 at the end of the first quarter.

And it went from bad to worse for the home team when Hugh McMeniman lost the ball after he had already crossed the tryline, although scrumhalf Nick Phibbs deserve credit for managed to get a hand in the way to jar the ball loose.

The Force kept plugging away, even though their execution often let them down, and after a couple of penalties - the first turned into a scrum and the second a quick tap-'n-go - centre Winston Stanley went over in the right corner. Ebersohn was again wide of the target, but at 5-15 the Force was on the board.

Ebersohn eventually slotted a penalty two minutes from half-time to narrow the gap to 8-15 and then made it 11-15 at the break, with his second goal - as the penalty count continued to mount against the visitors.

The Force's flyhalf import had an early chance in the second half to make it a one-point game, but his erratic kicking form saw him miss one from in front.

And the Force were made to pay for their poor execution, when James O'Connor put Richard Kingi into a hole and over with a well executed pass as the Rebels continue to run hard at the opposition. O'Connor was again wide with the conversion - making it 20-11 on the hour mark.

In the 55th minute Ebersohn was taken to the concussion bin after collecting a sharp shoulder from a teammate at a ruck. His replacement, Sam Christie, proceeded to kick a penalty into the ingoal area instead of over the touchline.

Minutes later O'Connor gave his team some more breathing space with a penalty from just on 50 metres out - 23-11.

However, the Force hit back immediately - collecting the restart, charging upfield with a series of forward rushes and some good creative play by replacement Sam Christie putting runners into space, till Will Tupou went over after charging through the middle of a ruck close to the line. Kyle Godwin added the conversion - 18-23 going into the final quarter.

Minutes later Woodward thought he was over for his second try, but the TMO ruled that the last pass from O'Connor was forward.

Patrick Dellit then scored his first try in Super Rugby, as he raced onto a well-timed grubber from Winston Stanley and flopped over in the right corner. Godwin's conversion attempt fell short, leaving the teams level at 23-all.

Woodward did eventually get his second, as he threw a dummy and kicked ahead, followed up and beat the cover to touch down for his team's four-try bonus point. O'Connor's conversion made it 30-23 with 10 minutes left on the clock.

With just over a minute left on the clock O'Connor had a chance to kill off the game, but he pushed the penalty shot wide.

And with the hooter for full-time having sounded, the Force won a penalty near halfway. For more than two minutes they took the ball through ineffective phases, 18 of them, before another handling error ended their hopes.

Man of the match: Alfie Mafi always looked threatening with ball in hand and Winston Stanley had some sublime moments. James O'Connor, who was moved from fullback to flyhalf at half-time, showed just how dangerous he can be with ball in hand. However, our award goes to hard-working Rebels wing Jason Woodward, who was involved in so much that was good about the Rebels' game - and he scored the match-winning try going into the final 10 minutes.

The scorers:

For the Western Force:
Tries:
Stanley, Tupou, Dellit
Con: Godwin
Pens: Ebersohn 2

For the Rebels:
Tries:
Pyle, Woodward 2, Kingi
Cons: O'Connor 2
Pens: O'Connor 2

Teams:

Western Force: 15 Will Tupou, 14 Patrick Dellit, 13 Winston Stanley, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Alfie Mafi, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Hugh McMeniman, 4 Toby Lynn, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Heath Tessmann, 1 Kieran Longbottom.
Replacements: 16 Ben Whittaker, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Sam Wykes, 19 Chris Alcock, 20 Mick Snowden, 21 Sam Christie, 22 Sam Norton-Knight.

Rebels: 15 James O'Connor, 14 Jason Woodward, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Rory Sidey, 11 Richard Kingi, 10 Angus Roberts, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Scott Higginbotham (captain), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Luke Jones, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson.
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Laurie Weeks, 18 Jarrod Saffy, 19 Jordy Reid, 20 Nic Stirzaker, 21 Tom English, 22 Cooper Vuna.

Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffman (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Australia)

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