Brumbies get better of Rebels
REBELS 19 BRUMBIES 27
Halted, but elated .... Stephen Moore is seized upon by three Rebels players in his 50th cap for the Brumbies. Photo: Getty Images
The Rebels may have lost on the scoreboard but won back respect as they pushed Australian conference leaders the Brumbies in their Super Rugby clash in Melbourne.
Rebounding from a 42-point thrashing by the Hurricanes last round, the Rebels, missing injured stars Kurtley Beale and James O'Connor, battled bravely but fell short against the Brumbies 27-19 at AAMI Park.
Scored the Rebels' only try ... Cooper Vuna. Photo: Getty Images
The Rebels earned their inaugural win against the Brumbies on the same ground last year which followed after a 43-point flogging, and it looked for a time like history could repeat itself.
After a slow start the home side could have been in front by two points at halftime after five-eighth James Hilgendorf snatched the ball from the back of the lineout and raced down-field.
He slid toward the tryline with two Brumbies on his back but the television match official Steve Leszczynski ruled there was "no conclusive evidence" he got the ball down over the line.
They subsequently settled for a penalty and trailed 14-12 at the break.
The only try of the opening half was scored by Brumbies centre Andrew Smith, who took advantage of the injury-ravaged Rebels being a man down.
Both sides toiled hard but were let down by poor execution with penalties littering the match as referee Keith Brown proved particularly pedantic at the breakdown.
The home side gave away four early penalties - three for not rolling away - and were warned by referee Brown that another infringement would result in a yellow card.
Prop Jono Owen was the culprit in the 23rd minute and while he spent 10 minutes on the sidelines the Brumbies sent the ball wide and took advantage of an overlap for Smith to score for a 14-3 lead.
Brown then turned his sights on the Brumbies with Rebels fullback Julian Huxley keeping his side in touch with two successful penalty kicks; the second from just inside the halfway line to close the gap to 14-9.
The visitors started the second half well with a successful penalty kick by five-eighth Zack Holmes before fullback Robbie Coleman showed his speed to burn Rebels centre Stirling Mortlock and then get past Richard Kingi to cross for his side's second try.
With their lead out to 12 points it looked like it could be game over but just two minutes later Melbourne won the ball from Huxley's restart and Wallabies aspirant Cooper Vuna showed his skills to scoot through to score.
Another penalty from Holmes gave his side the eight-point lead that the Rebels couldn't peg back.
BRUMBIES 27 (Robbie Coleman, Andrew Smith tries Zack Holmes con Holmes 3, Jesse Mogg 2 pens) bt MELBOURNE REBELS 19 (Cooper Vuna try Julian Huxley con 4 pens) at AAMI Park. Referee: Keith Brown. Crowd: 12,422.