Rebels start Super Rugby trials with Reds victory

The Melbourne based Rebels started their preparations for the 2015 Super Rugby season with a 13-28 victory over the Reds at Barlow Park in Cairns.

The will play another Super Rugby warm up next week at Ballymore against the Crusaders who they beat in the 2011 final to win the title.

A day earlier the Rebels will take on the Highlanders on Thursday the 5th of February at Harlequin Rugby club in Melbourne.

Tighthead prop Cruze Ah-Nau scored two tries, with Tom English and Tom Sexton also scoring, while Mike Harris and Bryce Hegarty didn’t miss any shots on goal.

Rebels’ Head Coach Tony McGahan was pleased to win, but most importantly to see improvement in his squad.

“It was an excellent hit out for us against a really strong Reds team away from home,” McGahan said. “The result was well deserved for the players as they have put in a lot of work throughout the pre-season, and we were really pleased to be able to use 28 different members of the squad.

“While it’s always pleasing to win, tonight’s focus was gaining reference points to see where we are at ahead of our next trial against the Highlanders, and then the Crusaders in Round One. We’ll look forward to studying the video and working out the key areas where we need to improve before coming up against another team with lots of internationals on Thursday.”

On an evening where the focus was on getting some match practice into all 28 players named to travel to Far North Queensland, the Rebels unveiled seven debutants in Cam Crawford, Steve Cummins, Mike Harris, Sefanaia Naivalu, Jonah Placid, Tom Sexton and Dom Shipperley, for a match played in quarters.

And it was Wallaby Harris who almost got the Rebels off to the perfect start, being held up over the line just a few minutes in as the Rebels surged positively from the get go.

A messy opening quarter saw just the one penalty goal, for the Reds, as scrumhalf Nic Stirzaker and Reds flanker Liam Gill were both yellow carded. The humid, sticky conditions combined with the fact that it was each side’s first match for 2015 ensured a number of handling errors from both sides, however the second quarter brought with it some more open play.

The Rebels continued to hold firm in defence despite plenty of Reds pressure, and were rewarded for their patience when English stole the ball on his own try line and managed to sprint the length of the field to score under the posts. Harris added the extras, and the Rebels went into the main break leading 7-3.

The second half saw both sides make a number of changes, and saw the scoreboard ticking over at relatively consistent frequencies.

The Reds took first blood, Wallaby Beau Robinson forcing his way over for a real forwards’ try, but the Rebels hit straight back through replacement prop Cruze Ah-Nau who barged his way over in a strong carry, Harris converting.

Robinson and Ah-Nau then took turns to get over for a second try each as the Rebels continued to hold the lead, before Sexton was able to cap his Rebels debut with a clever try to seal the victory.

Final Score Reds 13 Rebels 28

Teams

Queensland Reds squad

Forwards
Curtis Browning, Sef Faagase, Saia Fainga’a, Lolo Fakaosilea, Liam Gill, Michael Gunn, James Hanson, James Horwill, Adam Korczyk, Marco Kotze, Pettowa Paraka, Beau Robinson, Jake Schatz, James Slipper (C), Sam Talakai.

Backs
Tom Banks, Anthony Fainga’a, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Nick Frisby, Scott Gale, Will Genia, Karmichael Hunt (VC), Sam Johnson, Samu Kerevi, Chris Kuridrani, Campbell Magnay, Duncan Paia’aua, Jamie-Jerry Taulagi.

Melbourne Rebels

Cruze Ah-Nau, Paul Alo-Emile, Luke Burgess, Cam Crawford, Steve Cummins, Jack Debreczeni, Tom English, Colby Fainga’a, Scott Fuglistaller, Mike Harris, Bryce Hegarty, Scott Higginbotham, Mitch Inman, Sam Jeffries, Luke Jones, Pat Leafa, Sean McMahon, Ben Meehan, Sefanaia Naivalu, Cadeyrn Neville, Jonah Placid, Jordy Reid, Tom Sexton, Dom Shipperley, Toby Smith, Nic Stirzaker, Telusa Veainu, Laurie Weeks

Match Report by Melbourne Rebels.

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