Rebels edge sloppy Force

Date published: March 13 2015

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The Rebels made it two wins out of four games in Super Rugby this year as they overcame an out-of-form Western Force side 21-17 in Perth on Friday.

It wasn't pretty but the Melbourne side bounced back from last week's loss to the Brumbies with a deserved victory over their Australian conference rivals.

In contract, the Force have now lost four matches on the spin and head to South Africa with a great deal to work on before facing the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.

The Force have been on a downward spiral since their opening win over the Waratahs as losses came against the Reds, Hurricanes and Brumbies.

And things didn't get much better in the first-half as a restless crowd watched them leak fifteen points, with Alby Mathewson's 39th minute try covering over a poor defensive performance that saw Mike Harris and Dom Shipperley cross.

Harris went over inside five minutes when Force centre Kyle Godwin and prop Pekahou Cowan could not lay a hand on the full-back seven metres out. Harris made no mistake with the simple extras and the Rebels had themselves a seven-point cushion from one of their first real attacks.

It became 12-0 on 23 minutes when another careless defensive mistake, this time from centre Junior Rasolea, allowed Mitch Inman through on halfway. He then drew the last man before finding Shipperley on his shoulder, who had a clear run to the line.

The home fans were clearly upset by the frailties in their team as the Rebels were busting through far too easily, with Harris adding three more points on 33 minutes. That penalty was given due to Heath Tessman – on temporarily for busy hooker Nathan Charles – not releasing the tackled player.

Fortunately for the Perth faithful, Mathewson's quick thinking from a tap penalty before half-time gave them something cheer as it was 15-7.

The Force were clearly buoyed by that score as they emerged from the turnaround on top, Luke Burton landing a penalty to go with his earlier conversion that cut the margin down to five points. Unfortunately as a spectacle, the heavens then opened with heavy rain set to affect play.

Harris would push the Rebels back up to an eight-point lead from distance on the hour mark due to Force replacement prop Oliver Hoskins tripping Nic Stirzaker at the base of a ruck. And when Harris made it 21-10 on 65 minutes after an offside, one sensed the Rebels were home and dry.

Credit to the Force though as prop Tetera Faulkner crashed over from close-range in the 75th minute to make it 17-21 but the Rebels held on for four welcome points.

The scorers:

For Force:
Tries: Mathewson, Faulkner
Con: Burton 2
Pen: Burton

For Rebels:
Tries: Harris, Shipperley
Con: Harris
Pen: Harris 3

Western Force: 15 Luke Burton, 14 Marcel Brache, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Solomoni Jnr Rasolea, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Zack Holmes, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Brynard Stander, 5 Steve Mafi, 4 Sam Wykes (c), 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pekahou Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Oliver Hoskins, 19 Adam Coleman, 20 Kane Koteka, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Sias Ebersohn, 23 Mitchell Scott.

Melbourne Rebels: 15 Mike Harris, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Jack Debreczeni 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Tom Sexton, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Steve Cummins, 20 Colby Fainga'a, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Sefanaia Naivalu.

Referee: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
Assistant referees: Matt O'Brien (Australia), Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)

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