Rugby Union


Rebels hold on to defeat Force

A dream came true for Melbourne Rebels winger Mark Gerrard, who slotted a penalty to give his gutsy side a 30-29 win over the Western Force in their Super Rugby clash.


The fans at AAMI Park held their breath as it appeared the Rebels were set for more heart-break after they surrendered a 21-0 lead.

But Gerrard got his chance at glory in the 72nd minute after Force skipper David Pocock was penalised at the break-down.

"I've done it in my dreams a stack of times," the veteran said after the match.

"I looked across at Hux (Julian Huxley) and James (Hilgendorf) and they both shook their head so I said, 'I'll have a crack'."


As well as a stern Force fightback the Rebels were forced to overcome injuries to their playmakers James O'Connor and Danny Cipriani before and during the match.

Wallaby O'Connor withdrew before the match after damaging his hamstring during the week at training while Cipriani grasped at his own hamstring as he scored a try in the 22nd minute and left the field soon after.

The Force took a 29-27 lead in the 64th minute after fullback Dave Harvey converted a Nick Cummins try and the Rebels looked like stretching their winless streak of 12 straight losses.

But Pocock was penalised at the ruck and Gerrard stepped up after Cipriani and Huxley shared the earlier kicking duties.

Skipper Gareth Delve said the team had learnt from their loss after the final hooter to the Cheetahs last round.

"You learn a lot from losses and that came through in the final five," said Delve.

"I was really proud of the way the lads worked."

Before his departure mercurial Englishman Cipriani had his best match of the season, and the Rebels their best start.

They scored three tries in the opening 22 minutes, through centres Lachlan Mitchell and Lloyd Johansson, and then Cipriani's effort.

Despite the best efforts of his replacement Hilgendorf, the Rebels didn't have the same verve in attack after they lost Cipriani and their defence became ragged.

The visitors got on the scoreboard twice within five minutes through Pocock and then centre Winston Stanley.

Melbourne still led 24-12 at halftime but the Force struck three minutes into the second half through winger Alfie Mafie, who beat at least four defenders to touch down.

Force captain Pocock was disappointed his side didn't go back-to-back after their 21-20 win over NSW last round and lamented their slow start.

"We let them get off to a flyer and they capitalised on their opportunities," Pocock said.

He said he didn't think there was much in his costly penalty.

"It was one of those ones; sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn't."

It was the Rebels's first win in Super Rugby since they defeated the Western Force, also by one point, in round seven last year in Perth.

MELBOURNE REBELS 30 (Danny Cipriani, Lloyd Johansson, Lachlan Mitchell tries Cipriani 3 cons Julian Huxley 2, Mark Gerrard pens) bt WESTERN FORCE 29 (Nick Cummins, Alfi Mafi, David Pocock, Winston Stanley tries David Harvey 3 cons pen) at AAMI Park. Referee: Marius Jonker. Crowd: 10,982.