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Hurricanes sneak past Rebels in Super Rugby trial

Former Crusader Ben Franks in action for the Hurricanes

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Article Published: Saturday 9 February 2013

The Hurricanes edged the Melbourne Rebels 45-47 in a Super Rugby warm up match held in Geelong at Simonds Stadium on Saturday.

The Hurricanes also edged the Crusaders last weekend in Timaru when they came out on top 27-26 with a last minute try by second five eighth, Tim Bateman.

In an open and exciting first half, the Rebels scored five tries to the Hurricanes four and went in 33-28 ahead at the break.

It didn't take long for the hosts to get on the scoreboard, with new signing Rory Sidey intercepting a wayward pass in the Hurricanes half after just four minutes and sprinting 30m through to score under the posts, with James O'Connor adding the regulation two points.

After 8 minutes, the Rebels were over for a second time. Captain Gareth Delve forced his way across following great work from Hugh Pyle, and although James O'Connor pushed the conversion left from out wide, the Rebels nearly added to the score again in the 12th minute.

A clever break from Wallabies scrumhalf Nick Phipps saw him shrug off a high tackle and release Caderyn Neville into space. Neville threw a great pass to Alex Rokobaro on the right wing, but the young Fijian was bundled into touch just five metres short of the line.

However the Rebels' fierce attacking pressure couldn't be denied, with ex-Wellingtonian Ged Robinson crossing the line directly in front in the 14th minute following good work from Phipps, with O'Connor comfortably adding the extras.

Kurtley Beale dispelled any doubts that this was a 'friendly' game as he was crunched underneath a high ball taking a mark within his own 22, before a short quarter-time break was taken with the Rebels leading 20-0.

The break seemed to galvanise the Hurricanes, who got themselves into the game immediately upon resumption. James Broadhurst and Ray Leelo both scored for the visitors, and Andre Taylor had no trouble adding the points on both occasions.

But the Rebels hit back instantly, with fullback O'Connor over under the posts.

Beale, who was really pulling the strings and dictating the pace of the game in the 10 jersey, threw a sensational ball to release Sidey who in turn set up Mitch Inman as the Rebels looked to restore a double figure advantage. Just 2 phases later and they were over, with Inman and Sidey demonstrating a great partnership in the midfield.

O'Connor added the points from in front, and the teams then traded five pointers as first Ardie Savea for the Hurricanes and then Gareth Delve scored, with both kicks being on target. There was still time for one more try in an action-packed first half, with Wellington winger Matt Proctor scoring in the corner and sharpshooter Taylor adding the points.

O'Connor left the field shortly before half time after an accidental collision with an opponent's boot, and he didn't return.

Richard Kingi replaced O'Connor at fullback as the sides came out for the second half, with James King joining first-half substitute Paul Alo-Emile and entering the fray in place of Cadeyrn Neville.

As play resumed, the Hurricanes scored twice in the first seven minutes, with Proctor and Savea each adding to their first half tries and replacement Blade Thomson successful with both kicks.

But it was time for the Rebels to get in on the double action, with Robinson crossing for his second in the 54th minute following a clever set piece. His short lineout throw was given straight back to him, and he crossed over largely untouched out wide.

Although Beale missed the conversion attempt, Kingi added another try just five minutes later and Beale was able to add the kick there, bringing the score back to 45-42 in favour of the Rebels as they again took a short break at three quarter time.

A raft of changes took place ahead of the final quarter, with a host of young Rebels joining Wellington's All Black wing Julian Savea as replacements on the field

And Savea was straight into the action, with Kingi having to pull out a top-drawer tackle to drag him down mere metres short of the line. Unfortunately it was in vain, with the Hurricanes taking the lead on the next phase as scrumhalf Chris Smylie got over from close range.

And that was how the score stayed, 47-45 in favour of the Hurricanes, at fulltime. Tim Davidson prevented Julian Savea from getting his name on the scoresheet with a desperate lunge to touch down ahead of the man mountain in his own in goal, and the Rebels did have one last chance to snatch it as Kingi was felled by a high tackle as the hooter went, 40 metres out.

Electing to take a scrum as they strove for a victory ahead of a penalty kick to tie the scores, Nic Stirzaker's industrious run got the Rebels to within 20 metres, but a knock on (ironically one of the first of a game in which the ball handling of the Rebels was a true highlight) and turnover allowed the Hurricanes to put it into touch and emerge victorious by a slender margin.

Speaking after the game, Rebels' head coach Damien Hill said that despite the loss and conceding so many points, he was happy overall.

"That is a very good Hurricanes side out there, and there were a lot of positives,"Hill said.

"The set piece was probably down a little bit from last week but the competition was a step up. We were disappointed with the lack of discipline throughout the final 20 minutes, giving away so many penalties, but we will work on that, and I thought we were good on attack."

Kingi and Sidey were two players who caught the Rebels coach's eye.

"Richard Kingi added something (when he came on). He got caught out a few times in defence, but his attack was very good. He ran the ball hard, scored a try and kicked well too, he had a good game.

"Rory (Sidey) stepped up from last week, when he was a bit quiet against the Waratahs. He really controlled the defence in the 10-13 area, and when he had the ball he was able to dig off the advantage line."

Sidey too was pleased with his first game in front of local fans for his new side, and is enjoying renewing his midfield partnership with Inman.

"I see us (Inman and himself) as being pretty dominant in midfield and adding to the flair that Kurtley and James bring, and if we can get the physicality they want and run lines off them, we can get a nice little combo working. It was also a really good feeling to score a try, and hopefully it's a sign of things to come and I can score a few more."

Hill said that O'Connor will be fine to play the season opener next week, and had some positive news for Rebels' fans regarding new signing Scott Higginbotham.

"He (Higginbotham) still has a few things to tick off this week, but I am confident he will play (this Friday against the Force)," Hill said.

Final Score Melbourne Rebels 45 (33) Hurricanes 47 (28)


Tries: Sidey, Delve 2, Robinson 2, O'Connor, Kingi
Cons: O'Connor 4, Beale

Tries: Broadhurst, Leelo, Savea 2, Proctor 2, Smylie
Cons: Taylor 4, Thomson 2



1 Ben Franks , 2 Dane Coles , 3 Eric Sione , 4 Jeremy Thrush , 5 James Broadhurst , 6 Faifili Levave , 7 Ardie Savea , 8 Victor Vito , 9 Chris Smylie , 10 James Marshall , 11 Matt Proctor , 12 Bateman , 13 Reynold LeeLo , 14 Richard Buckman , 15 Andre Taylor

Replacements : 16 Ash Dixon , 17 Ben May , 18 Reggie Goodes , 19 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen , 20 Blade Thomson , 21 Jason Eaton , 22 Mark Reddish , 23 Karl Lowe , 24 TJ Perenara , 25 Julian Savea , 26 Ope Peleseuma , 27 Beauden Barrett

Melbourne Rebels

1 Nic Henderson , 2 Ged Robisnon , 3 Laurie Weeks , 4 Hugh Pyle , 5 Cadeyrn Neville , 6 Luke Jones , 7 Scott Fuglistaller , 8 Gareth Delve , 9 Nick Phipps , 10 Kurtley Beale , 11 Lachlan Mitchell , 12 Rory Sidey , 13 Mitch Inman , 14 Alex Rokobaro , 15 James O'Connor

Replacements :16 Shota Horie , 17 Pat Leafa , 18 Eddie Aholelei , 19 Paul Alo-Emile , 20 James King , 21 Chris Thomson , 22 Tim Davidson , 23 Trent Dye , 24 Jordy Reid , 25 Jarrod Saffy , 26 Richard Kingi , 27 Nic Stirzaker , 28 Angus Roberts , 29 Tom English , 30 Kemu Valetini

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