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Underdogs turn in a display for the ages


Michael Lynch

Rebels 35 Bulls 41

Gareth Delve of the Rebels scores a try after the halftime siren.

Gareth Delve of the Rebels scores a try after the halftime siren. Photo: Getty Images

THE Rebels were rated at nearly 6-1 outsiders before they kicked off against the pretty-in-pink Bulls at AAMI Park last night — generous odds in a two-horse race, but a measure of the expected disparity between the two teams.


After all, the hosts lay 12th on the Super Rugby table while the South African powerhouses stood fourth and equal top of their conference coming into this match, a team full of skill, speed, stamina and strength, and adept at playing with power, pace and precision.

Kurtley Beale of the Rebels breaks through the Bulls defence.

Kurtley Beale of the Rebels breaks through the Bulls defence. Photo: Getty Images

And while their lurid tops (more fuchsia than pink, really) might, in less enlightened times, have given rise to suggestions that the boys from Pretoria were getting in touch with their feminine side, there was nothing delicate about the way they set about their task of overpowering a Rebels team missing talismanic back James O'Connor and star English fly half Danny Cipriani, who has quit the club to return home.

All of which made the Rebels efforts last night even more heroic.

This game was in the balance until well into the last 10 minutes, with the Victorian side playing with fight and spirit, and enthusiasm and no little skill as it took the contest right up to its highly fancied visitors.

Kurtley Beale, who may end up replacing O'Connor at fly half in the Wallabies line-up, has taken the number 10 shirt for the Rebels. He showed just how explosive he can be, with a first-half break to set up a Cooper Vuna try, and through the evening displayed his finesse and creativity, not to mention reliability with his boot, to keep his team snapping like a persistent cattle dog at the heels of a powerful bullock.

The crowd, at 12,000, was smaller than the norm these days at AAMI and, given that the team had been on the road since its last home game against the Blues, was perhaps disappointing.

But if word of mouth is the best advertisement then those who came will surely produce the best marketing campaign the Rebels could hope for over the next few weeks.

If being competitive, having a go and giving your all is the minimum that fans can expect, then they will not be disappointed if they come to AAMI Park over the next few months to sample what is still something of an acquired taste for the majority of Victorians.

Sport does not always deliver happy endings. Mark Gerrard's 100th Super Rugby match did not end in triumph. Stirling Mortlock did not make a fairytale return. But the display gave plenty of hope for the future.

BULLS 41 (Bjorn Basson, JJ Engelbrecht, Akona Ndungane, CJ Stander, Morne Steyn tries Steyn 5 cons 2 pens) bt MELBOURNE REBELS 35 (Cooper Vuna 2, Rodney Blake, Gareth Delve, Nick Phipps tries Kurtley Beale 5 cons) at AAMI Park. Referee: Andrew Lees. Crowd: 12,112.


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Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 47vs TGA 9 Report Stats
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 33vs SCO 36 Report Stats
AUS 15vs WAL 6 Report Stats
ENG 60vs URU 3 Stats
ARG 64vs NAM 19 Report Stats
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 32vs ROM 22 Report Stats
FRA 9vs IRE 24 Report Stats
USA 18vs JPN 28 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 23vs WAL 19 Stats
NZL 62vs FRA 13 Report Stats
IRE 20vs ARG 43 Report Stats
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
AUS 35vs SCO 34 Stats
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 18vs NZL 20 Stats
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 15vs AUS 29 Stats
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 24vs ARG 13 Stats
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
NZL 34vs AUS 17 Stats
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Team P W L D +/- Pts
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Wales 4 3 1 0 49 13
England 4 2 2 0 58 11
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 4 0 4 0 -196 0
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Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 4 3 1 0 43 14
Japan 4 3 1 0 -2 12
Samoa 4 1 3 0 -55 6
USA 4 0 4 0 -106 0
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Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
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Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 4 0 4 0 -104 1
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Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 99 18
France 4 3 1 0 57 14
Italy 4 2 2 0 -14 10
Romania 4 1 3 0 -69 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
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