Melbourne Rebels

Crusaders in a canter over hapless Rebels

Crusaders in a canter over hapless Rebels

“A highly entertaining game of rugby between two quality teams that went right to the final whistle…” That’s the sort of introduction I has hoping to write about tonight’s game; the reality was somewhat different.

The Rebels hung in valiantly until half time, heading into the sheds just three points in arrears. After half time they were completely dominated by a far superior and better coached Crusaders outfit.

First Half

After three minutes it was three – nil to the Rebels, courtesy of a Jack Debreczeni penalty goal.

It took until just the seven minute mark for Seta Tamanivalu to cross the chalk and put the visitors in front after he received a long cutout pass from Ritchie Mo’unga. Mo’unga missed the conversion attempt from the sideline.

A few minutes later, Reece Hodge awkwardly thrust out a hand to knock down a pass. Referee, Nick Briant had no hesitation in pulling the yellow card from his pocket and rightfully sent Hodge to the sin bin.

Melbourne lad, Pete Samu burst through some suspect defence to get the Crusaders close to the Melbourne line. Owen Franks made a quick cameo at scrum-half throwing a beautiful pass to hooker Andrew Makalio who crashed over the top of Marika Koroibete to score in the corner. Mo’unga again missed the conversion but the score was out to 10-3. It was starting to look like the Crusaders might run away with the game considering the amount of attacking pressure they were applying to the Rebels defences.

However, the Crusaders would have to play out the balance of the second half a man down as first Matt Todd and then David Havili felt the wrath of the cheese, both for professional fouls.

The Rebels earned a piece of luck after the Crusaders gained a turnover, scrum-half Mitchell Drummond spilled the ball into the path of Reece Hodge. Hodge toed the ball through and regathered with a clear run to the line. Debreczeni made no mistake with the conversion and the scores were level at ten points each.

A real blow to the home team and potentially the Wallabies came at the 38 minute mark of the half when Will Genia limped off with what could be a medial ligament tear. A scan will be required but the early diagnosis does not look good and will likely see Genia out of the June test series.

The half ended with Mo’unga successfuly slotting a penalty to put the visitors ahead 13-10.

In fairness and despite being a man up for nearly twenty minutes, the Rebels were probably lucky to have been only three points down. The Crusaders looked obviously stronger, they had the bulk of possession and territory but had been unable to finish off a lot of their good work.

Second Half

A happy hooker, Andrew Makalio bags his second try

With Genia off the field the Rebels seemed to lose all direction and organisation. The grit and character they had shown in the first half went missing and, not for the first time this year, were completely ineffective in the second half as the 2017 champions piled on the points.

In the 44th minute a Ryan Crotty cross field kick was taken by Tamanivalu over the top of Jack Maddocks, “a speccy” to use the AFL parlance. Tamanivalu hit the ground running and fed an inside pass to a smiling Makalio who cruised in near the posts for his second try of the evening. Mo’unga had no trouble with the conversion and the score was suddenly 20 – 10.

The remainder of the half was all one-way traffic with the Crusaders running in another five unanswered tries, a couple of which looked ridiculously easy.

Mr. Briant mercifully whistled full time with the Crusaders in front 55-10, ending a 42 – 0 second half masterclass.

Random Musings

  • This tactic of leaving the wide channels open to be guarded by a scrambling cover defence is rubbish. It doesn’t work for the Wallabies and it certainly isn’t working for the Rebels – even without shuffling around defenders. Foxsports has the Rebels missing 38 tackles for the game, that is just unacceptable.
  • The Rebels stood off just about every ruck, allowing the opposition to recycle the ball quickly and play at their own tempo. Conversely, the Crusaders are masters at slowing the ball down, they make every ruck a mess for the attacking team. The Cru’ also have a happy knack of often having a stationary man acting as a screen for the ball runner, quite often he will even have his hands in the air to indicate, “I’m not actually here, Sir”.
  • The Rebels are really struggling in the midfield and need to find a better centres combination. None of the ball playing options are able to bring the outside backs into the game at all. Actually, the centres aren’t seeing enough of the ball themselves – that problem starts with the fly-half.
  • The Crusaders don’t play an overly extravagant game. They run at the defence, draw a defender or three, then put the ball through the hands until they can spin the ball wide or turn it back inside. It’s their intent that makes the difference, constant, in-your-face pressure whether they are attacking or defending.
  • Chibba Hansen and Nic Stirzacker are much better players than Rangi and Ruru.
  • This was the Rebels seventh straight loss at home to a Kiwi team.
  • This was the Rebels worst loss at home.
  • This was the Crusaders eighth straight win in Australia.
  • I’m really happy that the Rebels have a new major sponsor but I think their logo needs a bit of work. It looks a bit busy on the front of the jerseys.

There have been some real improvements in the new look Rebels play this year but they have a long, long way to go before they can even joke about knocking off any of the better teams. They will need to regroup in a hurry if they want to have a chance against the Brumbies in Canberra next Saturday night.

The Game Changer

Will Genia cops an earful from Ritchie Mo’unga

Losing Will Genia in the 38th minute put an end to any Rebel resistance.


Any number of Crusaders could have been MOTM

A number of Crusaders could have shared the honours, especially their backrowers. I’m giving Man of the Match to Number Eight, Jordan Taufua for a powerhouse display.

Wallaby Watch

Some hard work from LT

Lopeti Timani had a couple of strong runs in his half hour. Will Genia may have injured himself out of the June test series.

The Details

Scores and Scorers


Trys: R. Hodge (33″)

Conversions: J. Debreczeni -1

Penalties: J. Debreczeni – 1


Trys: S. Tamanivalu (8″), A. Makalio (19″), A. Makalio (45″), J. Goodhue (52″), P. Samu (64″), B. Hall (66″), W. Crockett (78″), M. Mataele (80″)

Conversions: R. Mo’unga – 2, M. Hunt – 4

Penalties: R. Mo’unga – 1[/one_half]

Cards and Citations

14″ R. Hodge (Rebels) Yellow Card
22″ Matt Todd (Crusaders) Yellow Card
33″ David Havili (Crusaders) Yellow Card

Crowd: 11,357


Melbourne Rebels

I like film cameras, LP records and one-handed backhands... and rugby. I hope rugby doesn't go the way of film cameras, LP records and one-handed backhands.

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