Rebels come from behind to beat Highlanders

Melbourne based Super Rugby franchise the Rebels completed their Super Rugby pre-season schedule with a 25-24 victory over the Highlanders at the Harlequin Rugby Club.

The come from behind victory was played in front of over 2,500 people and was the first time in history that a Victorian Club Rugby ground hosted a Super Rugby trial.

It was a physical clash throughout, with both sides impressive with ball in hand. The game’s early momentum went to the visitors with a successful penalty in the opening minutes.

The Rebels didn’t trail for long though, with Jonah Placid touching down after a great run down the right wing to score the game’s first try shortly after. Mike Harris converted the try, and the game continued in a similar vein with a free-flowing offensive style of play, making for an exciting half of Rugby in front of a spirited Rebels-biased crowd.

However the hosts didn’t have it all their own way; they were met by a solid and persistent Highlanders defence, who also found the try line before the break but went in trailing 13-8 after two penalties to Harris.

Neither side made any personnel changes immediately, however following a subdued opening to the second half the Rebels introduced six new players including a first appearance for new signing Ben Whittaker.

The game saw a change of style, as both sides took to the air in a bid for possession. The Rebels looked solid under the high ball, however the visitors took advantage of indiscretions and kicked their way in front to lead 17-13 at the 60 minute mark, before Trent Renata scored to extend the lead to a game-high eleven points.

With a raucous home crowed urging them on, the Rebels hit back when Mitch Inman cracked the defence after running onto a loose ball, and found the try line.

And with the 80 minutes up, Dom Shipperley managed to find his way through the Highlanders’ defence to seal a one point victory for the Rebels, capping a memorable evening for Victorian Rugby.

Rebels’ Head Coach Tony McGahan praised the Victorian Rugby public for supporting the event, and turning out in such force.

“It was an absolutely superb evening, and credit must go to Harlequin Rugby Club for preparing the ground in such wonderful condition,” he said.

“The crowd were great and they really enjoyed having access to the players, and it’s what we want to do here in Melbourne; get our members and fans amongst the Club.”

The 2015 Super Rugby competition kicks off next weekend, with the Rebels heading to Christchurch to tackle the seven-time champion Crusaders on Friday February 13th, and McGahan said that while he was pleased with the victory it means little when the competition starts next week.

“We had a good overall first half, made a lot of changes in the second half and overcame a bit of a lull to come home strongly,” he said.

“To come back from eleven points down showed great spirit, and that was pleasing.

“We’ve had two solid performances and lots of players putting their hands up, so that’s the main thing we take from our pre-season.”

Final Score Rebels 25 Highlanders 24

Scorers

Rebels
Tries : Jonah Placid, Mitch Inman, Dom Shipperley
Pen : Mike Harris (2)
Con : Mike Harris (2)
Drop :

Highlanders
Tries : Patrick Osborne, Trent Renata
Pen : Lima Sopoaga (2), Marty Banks (2)
Con : Marty Banks (1)
Drop :

Teams

Rebels squad:

Forwards – Cruze Ah-Nau, Paul Alo-Emile, Colby Fainga’a, Scott Fuglistaller, Scott Higginbotham, Sam Jeffries, Luke Jones, Pat Leafa, Sean McMahon, Cadeyrn Neville, Jordy Reid, Tom Sexton, Toby Smith, Lopeti Timani, Laurie Weeks, Ben Whittaker

Backs – Luke Burgess, Cam Crawford, Mike Harris, Bryce Hegarty, Mitch Inman, Ben Meehan, Sefanaia Naivalu, Jonah Placid, Dom Shipperley, Nic Stirzaker, Telusa Veainu

Highlanders squad:

Forwards – Alex Ainley, Shane Christie, Liam Coltman, Ash Dixon, Elliot Dixon, Brendon Edmonds, Gareth Evans, Tom Franklin, Ross Geldenhuys, Kane Hames, John Hardie, Nasi Manu, Dan Pryor, Mark Reddish, Pingi Ta’alapitaga, Joe Wheeler

Backs – Kurt Baker, Marty Banks, Michael Collins, Jason Emery, Waisake Naholo, Patrick Osborne, Trent Renata, Josh Renton, Lima Sopoaga, Fumiaka Tanaka, Ryan Tongia, Teihorangi Walden

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