The Rebels have erased a 16 point half time deficit to defeat the Brumbies at AAMI Park to maintain their unbeaten start to the season.
A double from Jack Maddocks proved telling, but it was the efforts of the Rebels front row, which laid the foundations against their highly fancied opponents, which proved most telling.
Despite having an all Wallabies front row, the Brumbies could only achieve parity at best in the early scrum exchanges, as Rebels starting XV debutants Robbie Abel and Matt Gibbon rose to the physical challenge.
In the twelfth minute, it looked as though the Brumbies had broken the deadlock when Tom Banks utilised his blistering speed on the right edge to break into the back field. He was brought down a meter short of the line, but ensuing penalties gave the visitors the territorial advantage they needed to launch more raids.
From a 5-metre midfield scrum, the Brumbies attacked to the right with a Christian Lealiifano cut pass that found Henry Speight tip toeing down the sideline. Despite a desperate dive from Marika Koroibete, Speight squeezed inside the corner post for the opening score.
With both teams keen to flex their muscle up front, rolling mauls became the order of the match as the backs were left to largely spectate the big men in action.
A breakdown infringement to Brumbies centre Tom Wright when the Rebels were getting on a roll afforded the Melburnians a penalty right in front of the sticks 22-meters out.
Quade Cooper accepted the gift to get the home team on the scoreboard. Renowned for the maul, the men from Canberra would have fancied their chances from a 5-meter lineout in the 29th minute, but desperate defence by the Rebels was complimented by spirited goal line tackling that kept the Brumbies out for 12 phases.
However, an Adam Coleman infringement on the Rebels goal line earnt the ire of the referee and the lock was Shown ten minutes in the bin for his indiscretion. Tasked with defending a second 5-meter maul a forward down, the Rebels were unable to repel the Brumbies pack again and Folau Fainga’a crashed over from the back of a maul in the 33rd minute.
With the half time siren having sounded, the visitors would be granted one last chance to test out their maul from an attacking lineout deep inside the Rebels quarter.
The throw secured by Rory Arnold, a likely Brumbies try was foiled by a dubious Matt Gibbon penalty which resulted in a Brumbies penalty try and a trip to the sin bin for the young Rebels prop.
The Rebels arrived on the field in the 2nd half a different beast. After retaining the kickoff and battering the Brumbies defensive ball, Quade Cooper threw an audacious no look cut out to a rampaging Koroibete on the right edge.
Greeted by four would-be defenders, the Fijian bumped them all off to cross the chalk. With the Rebels back to their full complement of players, their line speed found a new gear.
In scenes eerily similar to the their Round one match up, a rushed exit kick by the Brumbies was shut down by the Rebels midfield defence and a turnover ensued. Now established in the Brumbies quarter, Genia capitalised on a strong Dane Haylett-Petty carry to find Jack Maddocks with a wide pass that sent the wing over for another try.
With the Rebels eyeing the lead, back to back chargers by Tevita Kuridrani and Rob Valetini had the visitors sniffing the Rebels tryline, but a desperate tackle from Ross Haylett-Petty saved the day for the men in blue.
A former Victorian rugby youth representative, Valetini was to be denied a second time when a dominant Brumbies scrum gave him the front-foot ball he needed to cannon over. Looking to lift the speed of the game, the Rebels were in a race to keep the ball in play at every opportunity.
A 10-meter lineout inside the Brumbies half almost saw the Rebels capture their own rolling maul try, only to be held up over the line. From the ensuing scrum, a dominant shove was rewarded with a long arm penalty to the Rebels and Will Genia needed no invitation to take the quick tap and scoot over for a try.
The tiring Brumbies defence was now making easy picking for Will Genia who was making inroads at will. After guiding his men into the Brumbies quarter, it was left to the mercurial Cooper to steer Maddocks in for his second try with a well waited cut out to the wing.
A sideline conversion by Cooper had the crowd in hysterics and cemented the victory.