Rugby Union

Live: Melbourne Rebels v Western Force

Final whistle. Rebels 30 Force 23.

So, in the end, the Rebels were too strong at home for the Force. Despite a slow start, they picked up and scored points with ease. Beale and O'Connor played second fiddle to Phipps and Pyle who were the picks of the dark blues. 

The Force showed plenty of heart, especially with two men down. They showed great composure on the ball, and were a little hard-done-by with the two yellows. 

My man of the match was Alfie Mafie. He made 12 runs, for a total of 65 metres, and picked up two very well-taken tries.

An excellent start to the Super Rugby season, with plenty of positives for both sides to take into Round 2. Another very tight game between these great rivals. Six tries eh? Can't complain - see you for the next one!

Crossfield bomb from Sias Ebersohn. It wasn't high enough and was easy pickings for the mark. He hasn't been great since he came on, and has made some pretty strange decisions. He's a decent prospect, but will need time to settle in Australia.

Nope, they can't. The Rebels take it cleanly and will just see out the clock. O'Connor kicks it long, but not at a great angle, and it's a lineout to the Force on the 22m line. Handy position. They need to get it wide

 

Attacking scrum for the Rebels, and they've butchered it as Phipps refuses to use the ball. The Force have one more chance here. They need a converted try to tie things up. It's a big ask. Especially as they have just kicked the ball out. They have got to keep possession if they want points. Unless they can pinch the lineout....

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 Tired there from the Force, lying on the ground again, slowing the ball down. This time, Delve points to the posts, and James O'Connor takes another easy three from a fairly simple angle. The Rebels lead 30-23. The Force could ship another seven here I reckon, they are looking exhausted. Time for some Beale magic?

 

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So, we're all set up for a blockbuster final ten minutes in this Super Rugby season opener. The Rebels are in a great position with a lineout, but the Force have pinched another! What a turnaround. Big waste from the Rebels there, who opted to kick for the corner from a pen rather than take the points. Will they regret that? Probably not, to be honest.

 

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Godwin ate the conversion up. A good display from the link-up man, although he will rue a couple of missed ones in the first half - especially if this one remain tight.

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 Richard Brown goes over for a rare try off the back of a good lineout. Great control from the Force, who go in under the posts with 14 men on the field. Amazing stuff.  Rebels 27 Force 23.

 

Unbelievably, the Force are on the attack - and making progress. Huge ticker from the visitors, they are 2 men down, and into the hardest period of the match. They'll take some scalps this year if they can keep their discipline and, more importantly, their key men fit. To be fair, even their lineout has been sharper in the second half. Good signs, Force fans.

Pek Cowan is heading off after taking a knock. He is huge for the Force, they'll be hoping he's ok to travel to South Africa for the next round. A typically barnstorming display from the big man. Irreplaceable.

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And James O'Connor adds two more. His kicking off the tee has been impeccable. His kicking from hand, not so much.

 

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Inevitable. Huge space out wide, and Richard Kingi goes over in the corner with a swan dive Chris Ashton would have been proud of. Kurtley Beale drew the man, the ball went wide and it was all too easy. No way back for the visitors here. The Rebels will now be eyeing up a bonus point. The Rebels' fans have forgiven the atrocities of the first halfhour

 

Pyle almost goes over for a second, but falls centimetres short. It's gone forward, but there was an advantage being played, and the Rebels will have another chance. The ref is having a word with the Force for spoiling. AND IT'S ANOTHER YELLOW. The Force are down to 13. Oh deary me. Harsh. That was handbags.

 

Kurtley Beale and James O'Connor combine in midfield, with the fullback running on to an excellent flat pass at speed. He almost makes a break but is dragged back. Attacking lineout to the Rebels on the Force 22m. They win it with ease, pick and go, and it's only a matter of time before they go over. Held up by the Force! Great defence from the defending side, especially with a man down. Five metre scrum to the Rebels. They need to be patient here. The try is inevitable if they steady themselves.

Pat Dellit has gone over in the corner, but it's called back for a forward pass. Shame, he's had a quiet game but that was a lovely finish. Trouble here for the Force, with Alcock getting binned for a scuffle on the ground. I jinxed him. He HAD been fantastic. That was a brain explosion and will cost the Force any chance they had in this game. Not a good time to go one down.

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Alcock has been a revelation for the Western Force. He's carried the ball well, and is making an absolute nuisance of himself up front. He will bring a lot to this Force pack in 2013 and make the loss of Pocock less hefty.

 

Absolutely breathless stuff here. Even O'Connor is feeling it, sucking in big gulps. There are a couple of players down with cramp. It's a battlefield out there. Time for changes methinks.  

 

 Coach-killer from Christie, the Force No.10 trying to kick for territory, but finding touch on the full. They'll come right back deep into the Force half for a lineout to the Rebels. And incredibly, the Force have pinched one. Now there's a turn-up for the books.

 

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End to end stuff here, with the Rebels pouring upfield off the back of a trademark Beale intercept. Penalty to Melbourne in front of the posts. Bread and butter for the Wallaby with the horrible braids. He is having them shaved for charity, so this will be the last we see of that awful 'do. Rebels 20-Force 16.

 

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Aargh. Why didn't I put Alfie Mafi in my fantasy team? The Force go wide from a central scrum, and good holdup play from Christie sees Mafi able to cruise past Sidey on the outside. Excellent execution of a planned move from the Perth outfit. Godwin can't add the extras. Mafi's second try brings the Force back within a point. We've been here before. Rebels 17 Force 16.

 

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