Bonus-point victory for Rebels

The Rebels continued with their fine start to the season when they claimed a deserved 36-14 victory over the Cheetahs in Melbourne on Friday.

The home side were full value for their win and outscored the Cheetahs five tries to two with a five-pointer from Tamati Ellison securing their bonus-point shortly before full-time.

The men from Bloemfontein came into this match with plenty of confidence after posting 90 points against the Sunwolves last weekend and they tried to continue where they left off in that match by giving the ball plenty of air. 

That tactic proved fruitful during the first half, but the Rebels soaked up the early pressure and took control of proceedings in the second half and scored 26 unanswered points during that period.

The victory moves them in to provisional top spot in the Australian Conference although the Brumbies can move above them if they beat the Crusaders in Canberra on Sunday.

The Cheetahs made the brighter start and their early dominance was rewarded in the 15th minute when Torsten van Jaarsveld got over for the opening try, after the visitors launched a line-out drive deep inside the Rebels' 22.

The Rebels didn't wait long to respond though and struck back with an impressive try from Reece Hodge, exploited a gap on the edge of the Cheetahs' 22 and beat four defenders before dotting down.

Despite that setback, the Cheetahs continued to attack and they were rewarded on the half-hour mark when Clayton Blommetjies scored in the right-hand corner after Raymond Rhule had set up the score with an outstanding 50 metre break.

The Rebels narrowed the gap via a Debreczeni penalty in the 35th minute meant the visitors led 14-10 at the interval. The Rebels were quickest out of the blocks in the second half and took the lead 51 seconds after the restart when Lopeti Timani barged over from close quarters.

The match was evenly poised for the next 20 minutes but the home side extended their lead on the hour-mark when, after winnig a turnover close to the Cheetahs' 10-metre line, Jonah Placid rounded off after running onto a pass from Cam Crawford.

Despite that setback, the Cheetahs continued to attack but, in doing so, they were caught on in defence. Hodge sealed the Rebels' win with his second try, in the 70th minute, after a brilliant break from close to the halfway line before Ellison secured the bonus-point after intercepting a wayward Cheetahs pass close to the visitors' 10-metre line. 

The scorers:

For Rebels:
Hodge 2, Timani, Placid, Ellison
Cons: Debreczeni 4
Pen: Debreczeni

For Cheetahs:
Van Jaarsveld, Blommetjies
Cons: Marais 2

Rebels: 15 Jonah Placid, 14 Cam Crawford, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Tamati Ellison, 11 Sefa Naivalu, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Nic Stirzaker (c), 8 Adam Thomson, 7 Sean McMahon, 6 Jordy Reid, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 James Hanson, 1 Toby Smith
Replacements: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Cruze Ah Nau, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Colby Fainga’a, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Kotaro Matsushima, 23 Sione Tuipulotu

Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Nico Lee, 12 Francois Venter (c), 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Paul Schoeman, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Hilton Lobberts, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Danie Minnie, 18 Johan Coetzee, 19 Carl Wegner, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Oupa Mohoje, 22 Tian Meyer, 23 Fred Zeilinga

Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant Referees: James Leckie, Angus Gardner
TMO: George Ayoub