Planet Rugby

Cipriani kicks Rebels to first win

25th February 2011 07:30

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Danny Cipriani rebels win tackle

Match winner: Danny Cipriani

A Danny Cipriani penalty in the final minute saw the Melbourne Rebels score their first Super Rugby win with a nail-biting 25-24 victory over the Brumbies on Friday.

A frenetic final ten minutes saw both sides score a try as the ding-dong battle went right down to the wire.

After being whitewashed by the Waratahs last week, it was a much-improved performance by the Rebels, who went toe-to-toe with their Aussie rivals.

An evenly-contested first half ended with the Brumbies leading 16-9 as the visitors clinically made the most of their opportunities the way only an experienced team can.

But the Rebels held their composure in the second period as skipper Stirling Mortlock scored the franchise's first ever try to set up a grandstand finish.

Only fifteen minutes had been played but you would have been forgiven for thinking the Rebels had just won the match such was the roar from the crowd when Cipriani slotted a penalty to score the Melbourne side's first Super Rugby points and level the scores at 3-all.

But there was an even bigger cheer when the former England fly-half kicked the Rebels into the lead - for the first time in their short history - on the half-hour mark to make it 9-6.

It didn't take long for Matt Giteau to draw the Brumbies level however and the visitors went on to strike just before the break when full-back Pat McCabe was at the end of an overlap to touch down in the corner.

The hosts were able to claw their way back into the game with two penalties early in the second half, Cipriani finding the mark on both occasions to narrow the gap to a single point.

It was a end-to-end stuff as both teams were denied tries by crucial turnovers while camped on the opposition line.

Giteau gave his side some breathing room with a smart drop goal with 25 minutes left on the clock.

The crowd were on the feet again however when League convert Cooper Vuna broke down the touchline, drew three defenders before off-loading to Mortlock, who dived over.

The Brumbies replied almost immediately after the restart though and it looked like it wasn't going to be the Rebels night when Giteau and Adam Ashley-Cooper linked up to put Henry Speight into the corner.

But Giteau missed the conversion opening the way for Cipriani to slot the winner from 35m out in the dying moments.

The scorers:

For the Rebels:
Try: Mortlock
Con: Cipriani
Pens: Cipriani 6

For the Brumbies:
Tries: McCabe, Speight
Con:Giteau
Pens: Giteau 3
Drop: Giteau

The teams:

Melbourne Rebels: 15 Mark Gerrard, 14 Lachlan Mitchell, 13 Stirling Mortlock (c), 12 Julian Huxley, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Gareth Delve, 7 Michael Lipman, 6 Jarrod Saffy, 5 Kevin O'Neill, 4 Adam Byrnes, 3 Greg Somerville, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessman, 17 Laurie Weeks, 18 Alister Campbell, 19 Tom Chamberlin, 20 Richard Kingi, 21 Afusipa Taumoepeau, 22 Luke Rooney.

Brumbies: 15 Pat McCabe, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Robbie Coleman, 11 Francis Fainifo, 10 Matt Giteau (capt), 9 Josh Valentine, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Mitch Chapman, 5 Mark Chisholm, 4 Ben Hand, 3 Dan Palmer, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ben Alexander.
Replacements: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 Salesi Ma'Afu, 18 Stephen Hoiles/Peter Kimlin, 19 Colby Saingaa, 20 Patrick Phibbs, 21 Matt Toomua, 22 Andrew Smith.

Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)

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