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Cut won't keep O'Connor out of opener

Date

STATHI PAXINOS

Hurricanes 47 Rebels 45

Injured ... James O'Connor of the Rebels.

Injured ... James O'Connor of the Rebels. Photo: Getty Images

JAMES O'CONNOR is expected to be fit for the Melbourne Rebels' season opener against Western Force despite the Wallabies star suffering a bad gash to his bottom lip that required 18 stitches during the team's trial-game loss to the Hurricanes in Geelong on Saturday.

O'Connor, who started the game at fullback, picked up the injury just before half-time and did not play in the second half of an entertaining game. A team spokesman said he should be fit for Friday's clash at AAMI Park.

Saturday's game came down to the final play, after the siren, when the Rebels were awarded a penalty for a high tackle on Richard Kingi. The Rebels opted for the scrum but a fumble by Paul Alo-Emile put an end to their chance of snatching victory.

Rory Sidey of the Rebels. Click for more photos

Hurricanes down Rebels

The Melbourne Rebels finalise their pre-season with a loss against the Hurricanes. Photo: Robert Prezioso

The finish was fitting for a free-flowing game where both teams showed plenty of flair but where defence, at times, appeared to be an afterthought. O'Connor, Gareth Delve and Kingi all scored strong tries, pushing through multiple defenders, but

the Rebels' defence was equally leaky and the Hurricanes took advantage of the hosts' new combinations in the outside-backs.

The older generation of Rebels players, such as Stirling Mortlock, Julian Huxley, Al Campbell and Adam Freier, have moved on and

in their place is a group that includes three genuine world-class players in Kurtley Beale, O'Connor and Scott Higginbotham. The back-rower did not play on Saturday but is expected to be fit to face Western Force. Among their ranks is a group of younger players, such as Hugh Pyle, Luke Jones and Cadeyrn Neville, who have been blooded in the past two years.

In a pleasing sight for Rebels fans, O'Connor and Beale were on the field at the same time on Saturday – something that happened only a handful of times last season because of injuries. The pair are expected to swap between five-eighth and fullback through the season.

Beale, starting in the No. 10 jersey, was active in the first 20 minutes as the Rebels scored tries through new recruit Rory Sidey, captain Delve and Ged Robinson. O'Connor scored a strong try just before half-time but then suffered the blow to his head which ended his game.

Nine tries were scored in the first half, and 14 in total. The Rebels' attack looked sharp and slick, with their dangerous-looking back line taking advantage of every chance they had. Their forwards also provided punch, with Delve scoring two tries.

The Rebels did not allow the Hurricanes to run away with the game after the Wellington-based team hit back to take the lead for the first time midway through the second half when Matt Proctor's try made it 35-33. The teams went try for try for much of the final 40 minutes as the coaches rang the changes to give bench players game time.

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Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 0vs FJI 0 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00Olym
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00Olym
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45Olym
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45Olym
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00Olym
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
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Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
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Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 

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