The Rebels made it back-to-back wins for the first time in Super Rugby after upsetting the Force 26-25 in an entertaining match in Perth.
The Rebels made it back-to-back wins for the first time in Super Rugby after upsetting the Western Force 26-25 in an entertaining spectacle in Perth.
It was also the tournament newbies' first away win, which sees them leapfrog the Force and Brumbies into third spot on the Australian Conference standings.
The Force stormed into a seven-point lead inside five minutes after lock Sam Wykes finished off a superb – and now almost characteristic – break from James O'Connor.
The Force pivot ran 45m before hooker Nathan Charles took the pass and looked to be in for the opener, only to fall short of the whitewash.
Wykes was in support though, and merely had to pick up the placed ball from Charles and flop over for his first Super Rugby try.
Charles wouldn't be denied five minutes later though after crashing over after running a good angle off an O'Connor pass that took the home side 12-0 in front – O'Connor missed the conversion.
Rebels fly-half Danny Cipriani and O'Connor traded penalties between them (15-3), but the remainder of the half belonged to the visitors.
First full-back Mark Gerrard crossed over in the corner courtesy of some Cipriani magic with ball in hand – the former Wallaby star's celebrations were cut short though after receiving a dubious yellow card for a high tackle on David Smith.
Down to 14 men, the Rebels pressed on with two more Cipriani penalties to cut the Force's lead to a single point (15-14) heading into the break.
O'Connor got his team out of the second half starting blocks first with his second successful penalty goal of the match in the 47th minute, however the Rebels responded with an intercept try to lock and man-of-the-match Hugh Pyle.
Cameron Shephered did all the hard work winning a high ball, but his skip pass was taken in by the Rebels' man-mountain who showed deceptive pace to race in 30m untouched besides the posts.
Cipriani made no mistake from bang in front – his one and only successful conversion – that gave the Rebels the lead for the first time in the match (18-21).
The Rebels couldn't believe their luck when, three minutes later, Cipriani was lining up another conversion attempt after winger Richard Kingi touched down in the left-hand corner.
It was a cheeky try from the visitors and the Force will be kicking themselves for taking their eye off what seemed like a standard Cipriani penalty. However, the Englishman never pointed to the posts, and instead put in a cross-kick for Kingi to simply catch and go over.
The Perth crowd's silence said it all. In the end, it was quite a masterstoke from the former England number 10. The touchline conversion was missed, but the Rebels were on course for another upset win in 2011. Could they hang on?
The Force gave their home support a glimmer of hope when Rory Sidey went flying in for a converted try under the sticks to bring the score to a one-point ball game.
And when O'Connor had a chance to put his side in front with a penalty three minutes from the end, it seemed the Western Force golden boy wouldn't miss – but he did. The Rebels hung on for what must have felt like an eternity to win the match and a few more fans.
Tries: Wykes, Charles, Sidey
Cons: O'Connor 2
Pens: O'Connor 2
Tries: Gerrard, Pyle, Kingi
Pens: Cipriani 3
Western Force: 15 Cameron Shepherd, 14 Alfie Mafi, 13 Nick Cummins, 12 Gene Fairbanks, 11 David Smith, 10 James O'Connor, 9 Brett Sheehan, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson, 6 Richard Brown, 5 Nathan Sharpe (c), 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Tim Fairbrother, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Ben Whittaker, 17 Kieran Longbottom, 18 Tom Hockings, 19 Tevita Metuisela, 20 James Stannard, 21 Matt Brandon, 22 Pat Dellit.
Rebels: 15 Mark Gerrard, 14 Richard Kingi, 13 Lachlan Mitchell, 12 Stirling Mortlock (c), 11 Luke Rooney, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Gareth Delve, 7 Michael Lipman, 6 Jarrod Saffy, 5 Kevin O'Neill, 4 Alister Campbell, 3 Greg Somerville, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson.
Replacements: 16 Luke Holmes, 17 Laurie Weeks, 18 Hugh Pyle, 19 Tim Davidson, 20 Sam Cordingley, 21 Peter Betham, 22 Afusipa Taumoepeau.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
By Dave Morris