Rebels claim bonus point win over Cheetahs
The Melbourne Rebels have shot to the top of the Australian conference with a bonus point win against the Cheetahs at AAMI Park in Melbourne on Friday night.
The visitors, who piled on 92-points against the Sunwolves last week, took a four-point lead into half time after scoring two tries and shutting down the hosts’ attack in a tight first half.
The Rebels managed to keep their opponents scoreless in the second stanza while laying on four tries to run out 36-14 winners in front of 8,213 people.
The Cheetahs had the first opportunity to put points on the board after being awarded a penalty, however the visitors opted for a five-metre lineout instead of taking an easy three points.
The gamble paid off for the Cheetahs as they formed a rolling maul and hooker Torsten van Jaarsveld dived over for the try.
The home side answered with a try of their own just four minutes later.
Lopeti Timani pounced on a loose ball at the lineout, and Jack Debrezceni spread the ball wide to Reece Hodge who found the line after running through a gaping hole.
Debrazceni’s conversion levelled the scores at 7-all.
With the contest opening up, Cheetahs winger Raymond Rhule found space and ran straight through the Rebels line only to be brought down just one metre out.
The Cheetahs quickly recycled the ball and fullback Clayton Blommetjies crossed in the corner.
The conversion by fly-half Niel Marais extended their visitors’ lead to seven points.
The Rebels had a number of opportunities to hit back late in the first half however could only settle for a solitary penalty and the Cheetahs took a 14-10 lead into the break.
Less than a minute after the restart, the Rebels took the lead for the first time as Timani crashed over from close-range to score his first try of the season.
The visitors could have regained the lead with a number of kickable penalties, however opted for lineouts in an attempt to cross for five points.
The Rebels took advantage of the visitors’ missed opportunities and scored a long-range try in the 62nd minute.
Adam Thomson won a turnover and outside centre Tamati Ellison beat three defenders then offloaded to Johan Placid, who went in under the posts after a quick exchange with Crawford on the wing.
In desperate need of points the Cheetahs attempted a shot to cut the margin by three points, however Marais’s kick sailed wide of the posts.
Shortly after, Hodge was in for his second try of the night. Receiving a flat ball from Debrezceni, the outside centre broke through the defence and beat the fullback on his way to the line.
Debrezceni converted to give the Rebels a 29-14 lead.
The second half rout was completed on the final siren as Ellison, whose wife gave birth to their fourth child during the match, grabbed an intercept try to give the hosts a 36-14 win.
The Brumbies can reclaim top spot in the Australian conference with a win against the Crusaders on Sunday afternoon.
The Rebels travel to Auckland next week to play the Blues on Saturday afternoon, while the Cheetahs continue their Australian tour when they take on the Reds in Brisbane on Saturday night.