Rebels end Force's run
The Rebels ended the Western Force's five-match winning streak when they beat them 22-16 in a scrappy arm-wrestle.
The Rebels ended the Western Force's five-match winning streak when they beat them 22-16 in a scrappy arm-wrestle in Melbourne on Friday.
The men from Perth managed to salvage a losing bonus point, which kept them in the Super Rugby play-off zone.
However, they were well below the standards they set in recent weeks and the Rebels just wanted the win so much more.
It also appeared the Force were feeling the effects of their high tackle counts in the past month.
They looked lethargic and predictable for most of the match, with a late rally - after the game was already won by the Rebels - the only time the Force threatened on attack.
The Rebels had most of the early play, taking the ball through repeated, but ineffective, phases - the Western Force making almost 100 tackles in the first half.
The Rebels also dominated the set pieces - winning a heel against the head and two penalties in the first three scrums, while the Rebels also won a couple of line-outs on the Force's throw.
The Force had their opportunities with ball in hand in the first half, but where simply not clinical enough - turning over far too much possession.
However, at half-time it was still all square - Jason Woodward (12th and 26th minutes) and Sias Ebersohn (fourth and 19th minutes) kicking two penalties each.
The first 20 minutes after the break was much the same - the tackle count by the Force climbing well past 150, with the scoring coming from two Woodward penalties (45th and 54th minutes) and one by Ebersohn (50th minute).
On the hour mark the Rebels finally broke the Force's resilience - from a five-metre scrum Scott Higginbotham powerfully barged through a couple of weak tackles. Woodward added the conversion to make it a 10-point game - 19-9.
Woodward made it safe with his fifth penalty in the 75th minute - leaving the Fore to chase a losing bonus point.
They threw everything into attack and the Rebels were reduced to 14 men, when Tamati Ellison was sin-binned for repeated offences at the breakdown.
And the man extra eventually saw Nick Cummins sprint over well after the full-time hooter. Zack Holmes added the extras to make the final score 22-16 in favour of the home team.
The record run by the Force may have come to an end, but the losing bonus point kept them firmly entrenched in the top play-off zone.
Man of the match: The Western Force tackled themselves to a standstill - none more so than the loose trio of Ben McCalman, Matt Hodgson and Angus Cottrell, as well as centre Marcel Brache. Jason Woodward was again a threat on attack and his kicking kept the Rebels in command. Scott Higginbotham was his usual all-action, energetic self. The Rebels front row of Laurie Weeks, Shota Horie and Toby Smith laid a good foundation in the scrums. However, our award goes to Rebels hooker Shota Horie - the Japanese international showing he is beginning to settle down in Super Rugby and made an invaluable contribution to the home team's win.
For the Rebels:
Pens: Woodward 5
For the Western Force:
Pens: Ebersohn 3
Yellow card: Tamati Elision (Rebels, 79 - repeated infringements at the breakdown)
Rebels: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Male Sau, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham (captain), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Colby Fainga'a, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Paul Alo-Emilie, 19 Hugh Pyle, 20 Sean McMahon, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Tom Kingston, 23 Angus Roberts.
Western Force: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Patrick Dellit, 13 Marcel Brache, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Adam Coleman, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Phoenix Battye, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Justin Turner, 22 Zack Holmes, 23 Chris Tuatara-Morrison.
Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)
Assistant referees: Steve Walsh (Australia), Angus Gardner (Australia)
TMO: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)