Rebels shock Crusaders in opener

Date published: February 13 2015

The first Super Rugby game of the 2015 season produced the first upset as the Rebels beat the Crusaders 20-10 in Christchurch on Friday.

Once again, the Crusaders have made a false start to their season. The Rebels outscored their hosts two tries to one to snatch a deserved win, despite being reduced twice to 14 men. The result is the Rebels' first win outside Australia.

To make matter worse for last year's losing finalists, All Black fly-half dab Carter finished the game limping with what looked like a knee injury.

The Crusaders let themselves down with some poor finishing, making double the handling errors of the Rebels.

The scores were locked at 10-all when the hooter sounded for half-time after both teams had scored tries via their forwards.

Dan Carter gave the hosts an early three-point lead from the kicking tee but the Rebels scored the first try of the Super Rugby season as second rower Lopeti Timani powered over from short range.

Mike Harris landed the conversion to give the visitors an unexpected 7-3 lead, but the Crusaders replied a few minutes later as hooker Ben Funnell scored off the back rolling maul.

Carter's extras nudged the Crusaders back in front but Harris was also on target just before the interval to leave matters all square at the interval.

Harris's second penalty early in the second period put the Rebels back into front and the Crusaders were made to pay for turning down kickables chances as they hit the hour mark three points down.

And things went from bad to worse for the seven-time champs as the Rebels – despite being down a man after Sean McMahon saw yellow for a tip tackle – scored a second try, this time against the run of play.

Scrum-half Nic Stirzaker collected a loose ball, after Carter's chip ahead was blocked, and raced home from inside his own half. Harris added the conversion.

The Crusaders threw the kitchen sink at the Rebels defence in the closing minutes, but were unable to find a gap and thus could not even salvage a losing bonus point.

The scorers: For Crusaders:
Try: Funnell
Con: Carter
Pen: Carter
Yellow card: Drummond For Rebels:
Tries: Timani, Stirzaker
Cons: Harris 2
Pens: Harris 2
Yellow cards: Stirzaker, McMahon

Crusaders: 15 Colin Slade, 14 Robbie Fruean, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Tom Taylor, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Matt Todd (c), 6 Richie McCaw, 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Joe Moody. Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Wyatt Crockett, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Ryan Crotty, 23 Nathaniel Apa.

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 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith. Replacements: 16 Ben Whittaker, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Scott Fuglistaller, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Sefanaia Naivalu.

Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch

Referee: Nick Briant

Assistant Referees: Shane McDermott, Brandon Pickerill

TMO: Aaron Paterson