Composure gave Rebels a vital win
The Rebels managed to finally turn one of their numerous close losses into a win, and it was composure that helped them edge the Stormers.
The Rebels managed to finally turn one of their numerous close losses into a win, and it was composure that helped them edge the hapless Stormers in Melbourne on Friday.
After posting their first ever victory against a South African side, and their third win of the season, there was no mistaking the pleasure that Hill took from both the performance and the result (30-21).
"I am extremely pleased for the players, the supporters and the staff," coach Damien Hill said.
"They have played exceptionally well over the last month and just barely lost; that extra 10 minutes of composure led to a win.
"The Stormers finished top of the ladder last year, so to knock them off is a really fantastic effort by the whole organisation."
With 10 players in the match day squad in either their first or second season of Super Rugby, Hill was proud of his young charges and believed that they showed a glimpse of what Rebels' fans can expect in the years to come.
Following injuries to James O'Connor and Angus Roberts, and with Kurtley Beale unavailable for selection indefinitely, Bryce Hegarty was named in the starting line-up for the first time in his Super Rugby career.
"For young Bryce Hegarty to step up and do what he did in his debut was fantastic," Hill said.
Nic Stirzaker was also included for a maiden start.
Stirzaker had been so impressive when he joined the fray at the Newlands Stadium in 2012 when these sides last met, and the Rebels coach, Hill, had no hesitation in starting the young scrumhalf.
"Stirzy [Nic Stirzaker] had a solid game, Kimami Situati's first appearance off the bench added value - there's a lot of positives out of this game.
"I'm exceptionally pleased with the way the young guys are coming through.
"It takes a while to acclimatise to this level, and that's what they are doing. They're making every post a winner at the moment and that should bode them well for the future."
Rebel captain Higginbotham said that there wasn't much difference between Friday's performance, and that of the side during recent weeks.
"First half, those two tries that they scored was just off the back of two missed tackles," Higginbotham said.
"It was just a lapse in defence, but we stuck to our guns this week and we haven't dropped through these close losses - we kept pushing forwards, and we proved that we can do it."
Everybody involved with the Rebels will savour the result, the first ever win for the franchise against South African opponents, and will look to replicate it next Friday when the Waratahs head to Melbourne to tackle this galvanised outfit.