Brumbies give Rebels 50-point wake-up call
SUPER RUGBY PRE-SEASON REPORT: The Rebels came into the match with huge expectations and much hype, after their massive raid on the discarded Western Force resources.
However, the Brumbies handed them a reminder of just what it would take to be successful.
The Brumbies cruised to a comfortable trial victory over the Melbourne Rebels at Seiffert Oval in Queanbeyan, claiming eight tries to run out 50-19 victors in an entertaining encounter before an enthusiastic crowd.
The Brumbies drew first blood against the run of play in the tenth minute. After a sustained period of pressure from the visitors a wayward pass was plucked out of the air by fullback Tom Banks who streaked ninety metres before being dragged down by winger Kitione Ratu. Banks recycled the ball quickly and Henry Speight was on hand to saunter over.
Wharenui Hawera missed the conversion but made no mistake nine minutes later as the Brumbies increased their lead. A series of pick and drives close to the Rebels line led to a scrum penalty from which Isi Naisarani almost bulldozed his way over.
Matt Lucas was sharp to the breakdown and popped off a short pass for Sam Carter to have the simple task of crashing over the line from close range for the Brumbies third try. Hawera's successful conversion took the score out to 12-0.
The Rebels struck back well, forcing the Brumbies onto the back foot and eventually finding a way over. A long pass from flyhalf Jack Maddocks was palmed on by Taylor Adams for winger Ratu to cruise over in the corner for a well-taken score.
It was the Brumbies turn to score next in what was developing into an open affair. Flanker Ton Cusack showed his blistering pace taking an inside pass and bursting away to find Andrew Smith. Smith took the tackle and laid the ball back for Naisarani to use all his strength to force his way over close to the posts making Hawera's conversion a formality.
In a match played over three thirty-minute periods changes were aplenty and the Brumbies introduced several new faces throughout the encounter, Head Coach Dan McKellar making full use of his squad.
It was a training ground set-piece that increased the lead midway through the second period as the Brumbies reverted to their tried and trusted driving maul with Robbie Abel starting and finishing a move, controlling the ball expertly at the back of a rapidly advancing maul, that the Rebels could do nothing to check.
To their credit the Rebels kept at it and were rewarded when Harry Hutchison got on the end of a slick back-line move to dive in the corner with Jack Debreczeni adding the extras to reduce the arrears to twelve.
But it was the home side that ended the second period on the front foot, claiming their fifth try of the evening as Andrew Muirhead showed his upper body strength to force his way over the line after another patient build-up. Hawera converted to send the Brumbies into the break 31-12 ahead.
There was a case of Déjà vu in the opening minutes of the final third as the Brumbies added to their tally with a second score from a driving maul. Abel was again the beneficiary as the home forward pack routed the Rebels in the tight contest walking them back fifteen metres for the try. Ryan Lonergan took over the kicking duties and calmly converted.
The Rebels third try was gifted on a platter when Lachlan McCaffrey thought he spotted space from a quick throw only for Rebels replacement centre Sione Tuipulotu to anticipate the movement and pluck the ball out of the air to fall over the line. Debreczeni converted.
Stung, the Brumbies responded with a quality attack of their own, culminating in Len Ikitau scooting down the left flank to cross, with Lonergan adding a beauty of a conversion from close to the touchline in front of the main grandstand.
The home team finished with their eighth try of the clash as replacement hooker Connal McInerney became the latest to benefit from the dominant Brumbies maul, rolling his way over from a line-out five metres from the Rebels line to conclude the scoring.
For the Brumbies:
Tries:Abel 2, Speight, Carter, Naisarani, Muirhead, Ikitau, McInerney
Cons: Hawera 3, Lonergan 2
For the Melbourne Rebels:
Tries:Ratu, Hutchison, Tuipulotu
Cons: Debreczeni 2
Brumbies: Robbie Abel, Allan Alaalatoa, Ben Alexander, Angus Allen, Richie Arnold, Rory Arnold, Tom Banks, Sam Carter, Tom Cusack, Blake Enever, James Dargaville, Lolo Fakaosilea, Kyle Godwin, Mack Hansen, Wharenui Hawera, Len Ikitau, Jordan Jackson-Hope, Leslie Leulua'Iali'I-Makin, Harry Lloyd, Ryan Lonergan, Matt Lucas, Lachlan Mccaffrey, Cornel Mcinerney, Andrew Muirhead, Isi Naisarani, Joe Powell, Faalelei Sione, Andrew Smith, Henry Speight, Darcy Swain, Lausii Taliauli, Rob Valetini, James Verity-Amm.
For the Melbourne Rebels: 15 Tayler Adams, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Tom English (captain), 12 David Horwitz, 11 Kitione Ratu, 10 Jack Maddocks, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Richard Hardwick, 7 Colby Fainga'a, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Sam Jeffries, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Tetera Faulkner.
Replacements - from: Jock Armstrong, Duncan Chubb, Jack Debreczeni, Harrison Goddard, Esei Ha'angana, Trevor Hosea, Henry Hutchison, Latu Latunipulu, Amanaki Mafi, Sama Malolo, Hunter Paisami, Dom Shipperley, Alex Toolis, Andrew Tuala, Sione Tuipulotu, Ikapote Tupai, Mahe Vailanu.
Referee: Will Houston
Assistant referees: Matt Hogan, James Morris