Rebels praise forward pack after Crusaders victory

Rebels captain Scott Higginbotham and coach Tony McGahan have both paid tribute to the Rebels forwards after they beat the Crusaders in the Super Rugby season opener.

Melbourne Super Rugby franchise the Rebels earned their first victory on foreign soil when they beat last year’s Super Rugby finalists the Crusaders 10-2i0 n Christchurch.

The Crusaders started the match with All Black stars Richie McCaw and Dan Carter while the Rebels named a number of players who were making their debuts for the club and in Super Rugby.

Head Coach Tony McGahan named two first-time Rebels in his matchday 23, with Wallabies’ backs Dom Shipperley and Mike Harris starting, while replacement back Sefanaia Naivalu made history as both the first ever player to progress from the Dewar Shield (Victoria’s Premier Club Rugby competition) into Super Rugby, and also the first Buildcorp National Rugby Championship (NRC) graduate to progress to Super Rugby.

It was an edgy start at AMI Stadium, and the Rebels saw scrumhalf Nic Stirzaker given an early yellow card for aggressiveness in the ruck towards All Blacks Captain Richie McCaw.

To their credit, the Rebels soaked up the pressure for the first twenty minutes to trail to a lone Dan Carter penalty goal despite minimal possession.

And when they did gain possession, they were patient and assured as a number of phases resulted in Lopeti Timani getting over for his first Rebels try, new Rebel Mike Harris coolly converting from out wide.

The Crusaders hit back instantly through hooker Ben Funnell, who incidentally scored their only try in Melbourne last season in a narrow win, but when Harris nailed two penalties the Rebels headed into the break leading 10-13.

No points were scored by either side in the first 20 minutes of the second half and the Crusaders were given a lifeline when Sean McMahon was sin-binned just after the hour mark.

However it was the Rebels who scored next when Stirzaker grabbed a loose ball from a Dan Carter grubber and race through to score the visitors second try. Harris converted which was the last score of the match.

Head Coach Tony McGahan praised the work of his forward pack, and said that while the team would enjoy the win, it was important to quickly turn the focus to next weekend.

“I thought our forward pack were outstanding, and did a lot of really good work both in the set piece and around the field,” McGahan said.

“People might have been surprised that we started Lopeti Timani in the second row, but he was great tonight.

“We came here expecting a really tough challenge but also knowing what we are capable of, and while it’s great to get our first win on foreign soil under the belt it’s important that we focus on next week. “

“We’ll come up against a Waratahs side full of internationals, and that’s another exciting challenge.”

“I’m absolutely rapt with the boys, they went hard and credit to them,” said Higginbotham

“We knew the Crusaders would play an 80-minute game. Credit to them but credit to our boys for getting the win.”

“It was a tough game, very physical as we knew it was going to be,” he added.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.