Western Force concluded their Super Rugby season with a win under their belt after a late Willie Ripia penalty saw off the Rebels 27-24.
The Force ended their Super Rugby season with a victory under their belt after a late Willie Ripia penalty saw off the Rebels 27-24 at AAMI Stadium.
With only pride to play for in Melbourne, both sides struggled to display a clinical edge until the hour mark, when the Rebels once again went to sleep.
Tries from David Smith and James Stannard sealed a good finish to 2011 for the visitors, who next year will miss Smith and James O'Connor.
The Rebels knew that they could not avoid the competition's wooden spoon going into this game but they will take encouragement from their debut effort in Super Rugby. Three wins were picked up in total while their shining lights came in the shape of Jarrod Saffy, Richard Kingi, Nick Phipps and vice-captain Gareth Delve.
Friday however saw the much-publicised Danny Cipriani put in the performance his side were needing as he added direction to the Rebels. Aided by the assuring figure of Stirling Mortlock, who scored the leveller on 74 minutes, the duo were unlucky to be on the losing side on Friday.
As mentioned, the game only came to life after 60 minutes as up until then the game was dominated by four penalties each from Cipriani and James Stannard.
But then came a moment that Kingi will lose sleep over tonight as he misjudged a long pass from the Force and ultimately made room for wing Smith to cross wide out. Stannard then went over just three minutes later as it looked as though the Rebels were capitulating.
It proved not to be the case though as in controversial circumstances, Mortlock got over wide on the left wing when it looked as though the Rebels had knocked on earlier in the passage. His conversion to take the lead fell short and then Ripia knocked over the winning points.
Try: Freier, Mortlock
Pen: Cipriani 4
Tries: Smith, Stannard
Pen: Stannard 4, Ripia
Rebels: 15 Mark Gerrard, 14 Richard Kingi, 13 Afusipa Taumoepeau, 12 Stirling Mortlock (c), 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Gareth Delve, 7 Michael Lipman, 6 Jarrod Saffy, 5 Adam Byrnes, 4 Alister Campbell, 3 Greg Somerville, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson.
Replacements: 16 Adam Freier, 17 Laurie Weeks, 18 Kevin O'Neill, 19 Tim Davidson, 20 Lachlan Mitchell, 21 Peter Betham, 22 Julian Huxley.
Western Force: 15 Patrick Dellit, 14 Alfie Mafi, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Rory Sidey, 11 David Smith, 10 James Stannard, 9 Brett Sheehan, 8 Richard Brown, 7 David Pocock (c), 6 Matt Hodgson, 5 Sam Wykes, 4 Ben McCalman, 3 Matt Dunning, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Kieran Longbottom.
Replacements: 16 Ben Whittaker, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Tom Hockings, 19 Jono Jenkins, 20 Mark Swanepoel, 21 Willie Ripia, 22 Cameron Shepherd
Referee: Garratt Williamson