The Rebels have opened their 2019 campaign with a 34-27 win over the Brumbies in Canberra.
A strong breeze at the Brumbies back in the first half allowed for early territorial advantage for the Brumbies.
An inside ball to a rampaging Kuridrani almost opened the scoring except for a last grasp tackle from Quade Cooper five meters from the line. Even so, an offside penalty would see early pressure converted into points for the Brumbies with a Christina Lealiifano penalty the first points of the game.
A dominant maul from a Brumbies five-meter lineout drew the attention of their own backline, and with the extra support Folau Fainga’a scored the first try of the match in the thirteenth minute.
The Rebels response was swift. When a Lealiifano midfield bomb was defused by Haylett-Petty, the Melburnians launched an immediate counterattack through Will Genia and Marika Koroibete. Whilst Richard Hardwick in support went close to scoring, it would take another phase of play before a Genia cut out would find Tom English two meters from the line for the Rebels opener.
Another failed exit from the Brumbies quarter would again haunt the home team; an audacious Irae Simone grubber kick landing in the lap of an unmarked Jack Maddocks. With no Brumby defender insight, Maddocks strolled in from twenty meters out for his tenth Super Rugby try.
The lead was short lived, as the Brumbies returned to their strength of tight play. Camped on the Rebels tryline, the blue defensive wall was only breached when six foot nine lock Rory Arnold hurtled over the ruck for fan acrobatical try.
Not to be outdone, Rebels lock Matt Philip responded with his own five pointer when a neat dart from Genia allowed Philip a one on one opportunity against Arnold. The recently re-signed Philip crashed through the attempted tackle from Arnold for the score.
Not for the first time, a poor kickoff receipt from the Rebels saw a turnover and repeated raids from the Brumbies eventuated in just Alan Alaalatoa second ever Super Rugby trial.
The second half had barely started when a flat running Billy Meakes punched a hole through the Brumbies backline. Desperate defence had him held up over the line and moments later Maddocks was denied his second try when the TMO ruled Genia’s looping pass to the wing as forward.
Maddocks would respond in kind with a barnstorming carry over the top of Wharenui Hawera with his next touch, advancing the Rebels to within five meters. Before the defence could settle, Genia found Anaru Rangi hitting the line like a steam train and the Rebels hooker carried three would be tacklers over the tryline with him.
Tom English looked to extend the Rebels lead beyond a try when a long pass from Haylett-Petty got him on the front foot. Slicing into the Brumbies quarter, a certain try went begging when a desperate Kuridrani ankle tap dislodged the ball from English’s hand with the tryline millimetres from his grasp.
With the game hanging in the balance, a cheeky Genia box kick was recollected by Naisarani inside the Brumbies twenty-two. One phase later and a cross field kick from Meakes found an unmarked Maddocks for his second of the night.
With the shadows of fulltime looming, Sam Carter leveraged the opportunity presented by a a maul to sneak over for five points. It would prove the last score of the match however, as the Rebels clung on to win by seven points.