Rebels fight back to beat Brumbies
A superb second half fightback saw the Rebels securing a deserved 32-24 victory over the Brumbies in Melbourne on Friday.
Jason Woodward was the Rebels' hero, contributing 27 points - which is a new points-scoring record for Rebels - via a try, five penalties and two conversions
It was a typical derby with neither side prepared to give the other an inch during the early stages.
But although the opening half was a dour affair, highlighted by large periods of aimless kicking from both sides, the game opened up after the break with the Rebels, in particular, stepping up a gear.
The Brumbies got off to a flying start and scored the game's opening points as early as the third minute. Their pack got a strong right shoulder at a scrum, just outside the Rebels' 22, before Matt Toomua threw a long pass to Jesse Mogg, who took the outside gap before crossing over.
From the restart, Tevita Kuridrani was pinged for playing the ball from an offside position, after Ben Mowen failed to gather in the air, and Woodward opened the Rebels' account via the kicking tee.
The Brumbies were then awarded two penalties in quick succession and although it was within goal-kicking distance they opted to kick for touch, but with no reward.
They soon saw the error in their ways and White slotted another place-kick, in the 11th min after Scott Higginbotham was penalised for a ruck infringement.
The rest of the half was a lacklustre affair and both sides spent most of it kicking away possession in a bid to gain territorial advantage. The Rebels finished the half stronger and after spending the closing stages of the opening period camped close to the Brumbies' try-line, they were cruelly denied an opportunity to score points when they opted to kick a penalty into touch just as the siren went to indicate half-time.
The Rebels narrowed the gap to four points when Woodward added another penalty, shortly after the second half kicked off. This thanks to Jarrad Butler, who was penalised after infringing at a ruck.
The Brumbies upped the ante and were unlucky not to score when, after tearing the Rebels defence to shreds with a sniping break, Toomua's pass to Kuridrani, in front of the hosts' try-line was knocked forward by Tamati Ellison.
From the ensuing scrum, the visitors got their reward, however, when referee Jaco Peyper awarded a penalty try when the Rebels' capitulated under great pressure at the set-piece on their try-line.
The game turned on its head on the hour mark thanks to a superb piece of individualism from Woodward. The full-back gathered a wayward Bryce Hegarty pass, just outside his 22, and shrugged off five tackles before scoring a stunning try.
He slotted the conversion to give his side a 19-17 lead and the hosts' thought they were further in front, shortly afterwards, when Tom English went over after trading passes with Mitch Inman.
English celebrated prematurely, but, after Peyper went upstairs to the television match official, his effort was disallowed as he lost the ball while crossing the try-line.
The Brumbies were then reduced to 14 men when Scott Fardy was given his marching orders after going off his feet at a ruck and Woodward maintained his 100 percent goal-kicking record by adding another three-pointer from the resulting penalty.
The Rebels were growing in confidence and three minutes later Mitch Inman found himself in space down the right-hand touchline before breaking infield, and after beating two defenders he too got his name on to the scoresheet.
The Brumbies failed to surrender, however, and with five minutes left they scored their third try. Robbie Coleman got in under the posts after gathering a Toomua chip kick which caught the flat-lying Rebels defence by surprise.
Toomua added the extras but it wasn't to be the men from Canberra's day as Woodward added the final nail in their coffin, with another penalty, in the dying moments, after Fardy was penalised for holding onto the ball on the ground.
Try: Woodward, Inman
Con: Woodward 2
Pen: Woodward 6
Tries: Mogg, penalty try, Coleman
Con: White 2, Toomua
Yellow card: Fardy (66th minute, going off his feet at a ruck)
Rebels: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Tom Kingston, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Colby Fainga'a, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Max Lahiff
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Paul Alo-Emilie, 18 Cruze Ah-Nau, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Sean McMahon, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Male Sa'u, 23 Angus Roberts
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Robbie Coleman, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (c), 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Jordan Smiler, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 JP Smith
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Ruaidhri Murphy, 19 Jack Whetton, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Andrew Smith, 23 Christian Lealiifano
Referee: Jaco Peyper (SA)