The Melbourne Rebels have claimed their first ever win at Suncorp Stadium after defeating the Queensland Reds 27-30 following a contentious moment at the end of the game.
A controversial moment by the TMO in the dying stages of the match to overturn a penalty and give the Rebels the ball in the final minute was what gifted Melbourne the win.
A fight in the middle of the field ended with a penalty against the Rebel’s Sean McMahon, which the Reds then played and advanced up to a lineout. An eye-gouge was then spotted by the TMO on the TV replay, the offending Reds player -- Ed O’Donoghue -- was red-carded, and Melbourne were awarded with the subsequent match-winning shot at goal.
Injuries to key players slightly marred this match for both sides. Quade Cooper was lost very early in the game after injuring the AC joint on his left shoulder, meaning Ben Lucas was left with the flyhalf duties for the majority of the game.
As for Melbourne, Luke Burgess hyper-extended his knee deep in the second half, requiring him to come off in the arms of the trainers.
The game started off in a clattering manner when Scott Higginbotham collided heavily with Queensland fullback Mike Harris. Harris went to kick the ball cross-field while Higginbotham jumped to attempt to block it, but only ended up carrying his momentum forward into Harris, hitting him high, and receiving an early yellow card inside the first minute.
The knock didn’t seem to phase Harris, who was up only a minute later, dodging around Rebels defenders and scoring the first try of the game with ease.
A desperation tackle made by Caydern Neville on Lucas gave the Rebels back the possession inside their own 22. A pass of to Tom English saw him break through three Reds tacklers, before a sleek string of passes moved the Rebels all the way up the field and over to the opposite flank, where a quick Jason Woodward offload hit Tom Kingston on the chest and he was able to take it over the line for the Rebels first try, and one of the classiest tries from the Rebels this season.
While the try was an impressive one from Melbourne, it also showcased the Reds poor defence as there were a number of offloads from the Rebels, and a large handful of chances to tackle the ball-carrier which weren’t taken.
A maul from the Rebels after half an hour allowed Luke Burgess to peel off from it, beat several defenders and cross the line for the Rebels second try, and gift them a 17-10 lead. Again, it exhibited poor defence from the Reds as Burgess was allowed to slip his way through five defenders on the way to the line.
Just before the halftime break, a smart inside ball from Lucas allowed Ben Tapuai to find the gap and finish just before the line before the Reds reinforcements arrived and helped Greg Holmes into the try-zone to finish the move off, and level it to 17-17 at the break.
The second half started off on brilliant terms for the Rebels with a clean chain of passes stretching and thinning out the Reds defence, allowing Kingston, Fuglistaller and Burgess to pass freely between each other on the flank, before a pass to Burgess put him in a gap and let him run through to claim his second try.
A push from the Reds and some patient passing eventually awarded them with their equalising try, courtesy of Ben Lucas with fifteen minutes left on the clock to set up a big finish to the game.
A penalty awarded to the Reds gave Mike harris a shot at goal with five minutes remaining, which he comfortably converted, levelling the game at 27-27.
A big moment came for the Reds with two and a half minutes left in the game when a scuffle unfolded in the middle of the park. Viewing the replay, the TMO noticed an eye-gouge from Queensland player Ed O’Donoghue on Scott Higginbotham, meaning the original penalty (against Melbourne) was overturned.
Jason Woodward scored the ensuing shot at goal, giving the Rebels a three point victory at the very end of the game.
Poor defence was shown by both sides throughout this match. The Rebels defence was able to hold up for a little longer than the Reds, but ultimately both showed how much improvement needs to be made to match it with the better Australian teams, let alone the New Zealand and South African sides.
Where defence was poor, attack obviously thrived and there were some impressive movements made from both sides. The Rebels showed their ability to offload the ball with better effect -- as opposed to earlier in the year -- pass the ball quickly, and move the ball to the opposite flanks, while the Reds showed how dangerous they can be when they find the gaps in the opposition defence.
The Rebels impressive attack and the Reds unorganised defence meant Melbourne almost doubled the metres gained statistic, collating a total of 526 metres to the Reds 293. Carries and defenders beaten were also heavy in the Rebels favour, with a difference of 10 and 6 respectively. The Rebels had 24 offloads to the Reds 5.
The win means the Rebels jump the Lions into 11th position, while the Reds stay in 13th spot and on the bottom of the Australian conference.
The Rebels will come back home next week to take on the Waratahs on Friday night at AAMI Park, while the Reds have the bye.
HAVE YOUR SAY: What was your take on tonights game? What impressed you the most? What do both teams need to improve on?
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