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Injuries cost Rebels in second half

Rebels 13 Brumbies 30

Unstoppable ... Jesse Mogg takes Scott Higginbotham for a ride.

Unstoppable ... Jesse Mogg takes Scott Higginbotham for a ride. Photo: Getty Images

A QUICK look through the Melbourne Rebels ranks deep into the second half of their 30-13 loss to the Brumbies on Friday night told the story. James O'Connor was on the bench, not allowed on the field because of concussion, Kurtley Beale was restricted by a sore shoulder, Scott Higginbotham was being treated for neck pain but remained on the field, captain Gareth Delve and first-choice half-back Nick Phipps had been replaced.

The Brumbies had turned a one-point half-time deficit around to a comfortable lead while keeping the Rebels scoreless in the second half.

The Brumbies celebrate after scoring the first try of the match. Click for more photos

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One of the set ambitions of the Rebels this year has been to win the close games, something they did not do last season when they lost five games by seven points or less. But despite giving it a genuine attempt, throwing the ball around in free-flowing movements particularly in the first half, the Brumbies showed the reason for the high hopes that have been attached to their campaign this season.

The Brumbies were in total control during the second 40 minutes and dominated possession.

It became apparent early on that the Rebels would be hamstrung by the Brumbies' superiority in the set pieces and were forced to throw to the front of their lineout. Then the task became more difficult in the space of a couple of minutes. They lost O'Connor to concussion after he produced a brilliant try-saving tackle, and fellow Wallaby star Beale hurt his shoulder in a tackle.

Over the top ... Clyde Rathbone puts James O'Connor in the casualty ward.

Over the top ... Clyde Rathbone puts James O'Connor in the casualty ward. Photo: Getty Images

Along with their dominant forward play, the Brumbies backs were in exhilarating form, with two Jesse Mogg runs in the first half, one in which he outsprinted O'Connor to score the game's first try and the other when he set up the Brumbies' second, particularly memorable try. The overall performance also gave the Brumbies a bonus point as they ran in tries to Mogg, Clyde Rathbone, Ben Mowen and Robbie Coleman.

The Rebels' sole try came through Higginbotham, his first for his new club.

The Rebels began confidently, immediately showing their hand, running the ball from the kick-off and stretching the Brumbies wide.

However, despite their dominance in the opening couple of minutes, the Rebels paid for a number of mistakes including losing lineouts in prime attacking positions. And the Brumbies made them pay when Beale lost position after being smashed in a big midfield tackle, the ball making its way to full-back Mogg on the left wing where he kicked ahead and then left Rebels counterpart O'Connor in his dust as he sprinted half the field to plant the ball for a try. Christian Lealiifano made the conversion to give the Brumbies a 7-0 lead after three minutes.

But the Rebels were not put off by the sudden turnaround and kept to their game plan of running the ball. It was then a piece of individual brilliance by O'Connor that set up Higginbotham's try.

Mogg miscued a midfield bomb. O'Connor attempted to take it overhead AFL style, dropped it, picked it up again, danced around two defenders from a standing start and then offloaded to Higginbotham who ran on to score untouched behind the posts. O'Connor made the conversion to give the Rebels a 10-7 lead.

The Rebels extended the lead to 13-7 through a penalty, one of a series given away by Brumbies forwards for infringements at the breakdown.

But it was Mogg who again was instrumental with a powerful run that sliced through the heart of the Rebels defence before the ball found its way to Rathbone to score in the 36th minute.

Lealiifano missed the conversion to leave the score at 13-12, but the Brumbies could have taken the lead at half-time after being handed a series of penalties. However, the Brumbies chose to set scrums rather than go for the kick and the Rebels defence forced a fumble after the siren to maintain a one-point lead.

BRUMBIES 30 (Robbie Coleman, Jesse Mogg, Ben Mowen, Clyde Rathbone tries Christian Lealiifano 2 cons 2 pens) bt MELBOURNE REBELS 13 (Scott Higginbotham try James O’Connor con 2 pens) at AAMI Park. Referee: James Leckie. Crowd: 12,092.

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ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
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SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
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ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
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IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
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