Red tide sweeps Rebels away
Red tide sweeps Rebels awaySHARE
The Reds took their opportunities well to secure a vital 32-17 bonus-point victory over the Rebels in Melbourne on Friday.
Three tries in the first half set a solid platform for the Reds who managed to see off a gutsy second-half fight-back from the Rebels before wrapping up the bonus point with a late try by replacement Nick Frisby.
The home team started the game at a high intensity and their efforts were rewarded when flyhalf James O'Connor knocked over a penalty from close to the touchline, but those were to be their only points of the first half.
The Reds responded immediately by marching into Rebels territory before sending it wide to Digby Ioane's late replacement Chris F'Sautia who had too much pace for the cover defence and swept over in the corner for the try.
When Mike Harris added a penalty shortly afterwards but the Super Rugby champions were not done there, and showed just how dangerous they can be from turnover ball when they scored from a tighthead scrum deep in their own half.
Will Genia snapped the ball up and swung it out to Harris who chipped over the top before collecting and shifting it on to Dom Shipperley who found a flying F'Sautia on his outside.
Shipperley followed up well to get the ball back and he crashed over in the left corner to round off a devastating counter-attack which left the Rebels scrambling at 17-3 down.
The Reds were in control, and they continued to apply the pressure by camping in the Rebels 22 until a moment of magic from Quade Cooper opened up the home team's defence.
The elusive playmaker spun in a tackle in front of the poles and freed his arms to get a pass away to big lock Adam Wallace-Harrison who stormed over for an easy try which extended the lead to 24-3 just before the half-time break.
The home team suffered a double blow at the start of the second half when O'Connor limped off the field with a hamstring injury and Harris nailed his second penalty to extend the Reds' lead to 27-3.
Kurtley Beale took over from O'Connor at flyhalf and made an immediate impact – creating space for players outside him and giving the Reds a few headaches with some clever footwork.
That momentum put the Rebels in position to strike, and it was Beale who deservedly dived over under the poles for their first try thanks to some more quick-stepping which gave the crowd something to cheer about and cut the Reds' lead to 27-10.
The Reds were searching for their bonus-point try, but a few key substitutions disrupted their fluency and the Rebels took advantage by forcing the visitors to defend in their own half.
A sloppy kick from Cooper's replacement Ben Lucas which went out on the full gave the Rebels a valuable attacking opportunity, and they took it well by sending Lachlan Mitchell over for a try in the corner which gave them some hope as they trailed 27-17 with 12 minutes left to play.
That try saw the Reds tighten things up considerably, and their forwards got them into good position with some determined driving play which gave replacement Nick Frisby the opportunity to nip over in the right corner for the fourth try which secured the vital bonus point.
Man of the match: Reds forwards Rob Simmons and Scott Higginbotham both made big contributions to their team's momentum but inside centre Mike Harris was as solid as ever off the kicking tee and also provided a creative influence in midfield so he wins our award.
For the Rebels:
Tries: Beale, Mitchell
Cons: Huxley, Beale
For the Reds:
Tries: F'Sautia, Shipperley, Adam Wallace-Harrison, Frisby
Cons: Harris 3
Pens: Harris 2
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Mark Gerrard, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Stirling Mortlock (captain), 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 James O'Connor, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Gareth Delve, 7 Hugh Perrett, 6 Tom Chamberlain, 5 Hugh Pyle, 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Jono Owen, 2 Adam Freier, 1 Nic Henderson.
Replacements: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Rodney Blake, 18 Al Campbell, 19 Tim Davidson, 20 Nic Stirzaker, 21 Lachie Mitchell, 22 Julian Huxley.
Reds: 15 Luke Morahan, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Anthony Faingaa, 12 Mike Harris, 11 Chris F'Sautia, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia (captain), 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Jake Schatz, 5 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Greg Holmes.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Radike Samo, 19 Beau Robinson, 20 Blake Enever, 21 Ben Lucas, 22 Nick Frisby.
Referee: Keith Brown (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Andrew Lees (Australia), Angus Gardner (Australia)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Australia)