Melbourne Rebels shock Waratahs in massive excitement, analysis, highlights, reaction

Richard Hardwick said the rebels would be looking to get under the skin of their favorite opponents, the Waratahs, throughout the week. After winning two of their last three in Melbourne against the Waratahs, the Rebels recalled those two overcookers.

The Waratahs laughed at this, saying instead that they were solely focused on their own game.

On Friday night, however, it was the Rebels who had the last laugh as Kevin Foote’s men recorded a brilliant 34-27 win. Record it as their fifth win in seven games against the Waratahs.

In-form backrower Richard Hardwick was once again the Rebels’ best in their stunning win over the Waratahs. Photo: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

The Waratahs bombed two tries within the first 20 minutes, and when the Rebels scored two tries of their own with the boot, the match had all the hallmarks of excitement in the South.

That point was rammed home when Ben Donaldson, wearing the No 10 jersey for the Wallabies as they came over the top of Wales in Cardiff to win their final Test of the year, made no contact after one with 10 minutes left Penalty found . If it wasn’t already gone, then it was after.

Despite trailing 17-6 at halftime, it was the Waratahs who exploded from the blocks in the second half.

Mark Nawaqanitawase scored after some quick hands from the forwards and when backup back rower narrowly crossed Charlie Gamble it looked like the Waratahs were repeating the performance from a week earlier by ending with a wet sail.

But some bad kicks let the Rebels back in the game and the home side took full advantage of the lack of focus.

Test prop Matt Gibbon hit under the sticks after fooling Izaia Perese with a huge dummy to hit back in the 60th minute.

Soon after, with the Waratahs hot on his heels, Carter Gordon followed suit by scoring an easy try. It was a case of players on the move and a growing No. 10 running to the line with two hands against a tiring, sliding defense.

Reece Hodge’s penalty extended the home side’s lead to 14 points to ensure they would not be beaten in regulation time.

Neither were they, as Taleni Sui tried late on to give the Waratahs a lost bonus point for their troubles.

Victory was a huge scalp for the rebels.


Reece Hodge leaps over to score the opening try against the Waratahs at AAMI Park on March 10, 2023 in Melbourne. Photo: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Written off following the preseason injuries of new captain Rob Leota and his Test teammate Matt Philip, the Rebels are also without one of their best backs, Andrew Kellaway.

But with Hardwick emerging brilliantly and offering a regular threat on the ball, Ryan Louwrens back in Melbourne, Gordon growing with each season and Lachie Anderson gaining a foothold in Super Rugby, the Rebels pushed the Hurricanes last week and now brought down the Wallaby. loaded waratahs.

“It’s extremely important. We’ve come close a couple of times now without a win so I think it gives us a little bit more confidence and belief that if we get that first win on the board we can really shake up this competition a bit,” said Captain Brad Wilkin.

“They are a great team, the Waratahs. But I’m really happy that we can get the win for the organization.”

Waratah’s captain Jake Gordon slammed his side’s performances.

“It’s really disappointing,” he said.

“We’re just relaxed at the moment. Easy on the carry, easy on the collapse; we kept their back line on the ball the whole game and they did that really well.

“Really happy with our first 20; Pretty disappointed we didn’t get away with two tries there and struggled to come back from that.


Carter Gordon’s shares continue to climb after he led the Rebels to their first victory of the year. Photo: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

The loss was a colossal blow to the Waratah’s hopes of finishing in the top four of this year’s standings.

With four New Zealand sides shooting and the Brumbies unbeaten in their first two games, the win in Melbourne was crucial to their hopes of hosting a final, especially given that they will travel to Wellington next week to face the Hurricanes. Ardie Savea suspended.

Adding to the frustration was that this was a game, especially after a flying start.

Nemani Nadolo, brought in for teenage sensation Max Jorgensen, found the white chalk on touchdown in the opening minutes.

Shortly after Langi Gleeson, the No.8 who had caught Eddie Jones’ eye, broke through the Rebels’ defensive line and was cut off just with the line in sight before illegally propelling himself forward to dish out a penalty.

While the Waratahs eventually got on the board first through Tane Edmed’s precise shoe, a possible 14-0 lead was annihilated as the Rebels made the leap and led 12-3.

Hodge’s attempt at a long-awaited chipkick from Anderson put the Rebels ahead after 22 minutes.

Hodge then returned the favor by performing a nice cultivator for Anderson to land spectacularly as Nadolo’s lack of speed and turning radius were brutally exposed for the second straight attempt.

With the momentum in the Rebels’ favour, Edmed hit over his second penalty.

But the ambush was really underway as Hardwick, who will not be on any Jones Wallabies list after playing for Namibia last year, continued his try-scoring form by passing two defenders to score.

After failing to take a chance just before the break, Nawaqanitawase showed his teammates how it’s done.

And while Gamble and Edmed let the Waratahs take the lead, the Rebels had all the lead when Michael Hooper looked down on his feet for once.

Well-made attempts from Gibbon and Gordon made it a night to remember for the Rebels, who will take some confidence into next week’s difficult task in Hamilton against the Flying Chiefs.

“It’s just right for us,” Foote said after being asked where it ranked for Rebel victories.

“It’s been a tough couple of years and we talked about it in the dressing room. As we turned the corner last week [against the Hurricanes] We wanted to keep building on the momentum and I thought the guys pulled it off.” Melbourne Rebels shock Waratahs in massive excitement, analysis, highlights, reaction

Russell Falcon

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