Rebels send Stormers packing
Rebels send Stormers packingSHARE
The Rebels send the Stormers packing with no points at all, after beating them 30-21 in their Super Rugby showdown in Melbourne on Friday.
It was the Rebels' first-ever win over a South African team, adding insult to the pain already felt by the struggling Stormers.
There is going to be controversy, argument and protest about the winning and losing of this match – at least 10 points' worth of controversy.
So let's get it out of the way first before we discuss the manner of the history-making victory and defeat.
Ten points? First there was the penalty just before half-time.
Then there was the penalty try shortly before the end.
Deon Fourie was penalised at a tackle. The Rebels told the referee that they were kicking at goal. The Stormers gathered in a meeting while Woodward placed the ball on a tee for a kick at goal. Then, suddenly, he did not kick at goal but kicked wide to his left to catch the Stormers unaware and score a try.
The referee stopped play and told Woodward what Woodward surely knew, which was that he had to have a genuine effort at kicking the goal. The referee was right to stop play. Then he said: "Take it again." That's daft. The law requires that he award a scrum at the mark, Stormers to put the ball in. Woodward took the kick again and scored three points.
In the case of the penalty try there was not that much contrary to the laws by the match officials.
Martin Bezuidenhout had the ball knocked out of his hands as he is tackled by Scott Higginbotham. Nick Phipps of the Rebels foots the ball through towards the Stormers' in-goal. Phipps goes to chase it as Bezuidenhout tries to hold him back. Bezuidenhout was wrong, but should there not have been a scrum for Higginbotham klnocking the ball out of the hooker's hand?
After this, three players dive for the ball – Bryan Habana, Gary van Aswegen and Nick Phipps. It seems that Habana grounded the ball first. The referee consults the TMO asking if it is ''try, no try'. He then asks him to look at 'the last passage'. The TMO returns with the advice that there was foul play by Bezuidenhout and that Phipps would probably have scored a try but for Bezuidenhout's foul play. The referee then awards a penalty try and sends Bezuidenhout to the sin bin.
It will be controversial because penalty tries are always controversial but clearly what Bezuidenhout did was wrong.
But there was more to the victory and defeat than those 10 points.
For one thing the aggressive defence of the Rebels was wholly commendable – brave and intent. Secondly the poor handling by the Stormers and the turnovers they conceded certainly made scoring tries more difficult.
And then there were the decisions to eschew penalty kicks at goal in the search of tries when victory was by no means certain.
They did this four times when leading by a single point and on none of those four occasions did they add to their score.
They had chances to score tries when they bashed at the line but the great Rebels' defence and their own wonky judgement of when to pass militated against tries while in similar circumstances the Rebels scored two tries.
The Rebels scored first when Eben Etzebeth was penalised at a tackle. 3-0 after 5 minutes. The Stormers then attacked but conceded a turnover, they lost their own line-out and Juan de Jongh knocked on a pass.
The Rebels then went on the attack. They bashed at the Stormers' line and Scott Higginbotham swirled over for a try as Siya Kolisi and Joe Petersen tried to stop him. 10-0 after 12 minutes.
From an attacking scrum Louis Schreuder broke, was knocked down, got up and scored at the posts. 10-7 after 16 minutes.
The Stormers then scored a magnificent try when Etzebeth, a sprinter at school, burst through and strode towards the Rebels' line. When Bryce Hegarty challenged him the huge man threw a perfect pass to Habana on his left and the wing scored at the posts. 14-10 after 27 minutes.
From a scrum the Rebels bashed at the line and Cadeyrn Neville actually grounded the ball for the try but was penalised for hanging on in a tackle when he should have released. Tom English had a promising break but Nizaam Carr brought him down and the Stormers held on.
Just before half-time Woodward goaled the dubious penalty kick. That made the half-time score 14-13.
The Stormers started the second half on the attack. They opted for a line-out instead of taking the short at goal from in front, but Steven Kitshoff knocked on. They again opted for a line-out from a penalty and were penalised for obstruction. Instead the Rebels lifted the siege went on the attack themselves and Hugh Pyle stretched past Jean de Villiers to score. 20-14 to the Rebels after 53 minutes.
The Stormers attacked in many phases till they went wide left when Etzebeth again gave a perfect, try-making pass, this time to Bekker who scored in the corner, whence Petersen converted. 21-20 to the Stormers after 58 minutes.
Twice the Stormers preferred line-outs to kicks at goal. Nic Groom got closest but they failed to score, and then came the nail that closed the coffin, the penalty try when Phipps was held back and finally a penalty goal when Bekker dived into a tackle/ruck.
Just a last thought: it is no good crying injury, beacsue every team has them and the Rebels were missing good players as well. It's no good getting too excited about the referee who did not knock-on, miss tackles, concede turnovers, throw into line-outs badly or opt not to kick at goal. Just a thought.
Man of the Match: There are many contenders on the Rebels' side. However, our award goes to Hugh Pyle, the Rebels' athletic, zestful, multi-skilled lock.
For the Rebels:
Tries: Higginbotham, Pyle, Penalty try
Cons: Woodward 3
Pens: Woodward 3
For the Stormers:
Tries: Schrueder, Habana, Bekker
Cons: Pietersen 3
Yellow card: Martin Bezuidenhout (Stormers, 74 – professional foul, holding back the player)_
Rebels: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Tom English, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Rory Sidey, 11 Lachlan Mitchell, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham (captain), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Jarrod Saffy, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson.
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Paul Alo-Emile, 18 Luke Jones, 19 Gareth Delve, 20 Jordy Reid, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Kimami Sitauti.
Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Brok Harris, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 Gerbrandt Grobler, 19 Don Armand, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Gary van Aswegen, 22 Gerhard van den Heever.
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia), Ed Martin (Australia)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Australia)