A strong second half from the Stormers saw them steamroll the Rebels in Melbourne, but what did we learn from the match?
AAMI Park turf holds up
The last time we saw a match at AAMI Park it was the second Test between the Wallabies and England and the main talking point was the turf that couldn’t handle the impact at scrumtime. Just over a week ago the Rebels threatened to move their final game of the season away from AAMI Park if the problem wasn’t solved, which led to the Melbourne Olympic Park replacing the turf for tonight’s game.
Rebels shot down by injuries
Injury woes struck the Rebels even before kickoff. Mike Harris was a late withdrawal before the match, but it only got worse from there. Tony McGahan lost both his locks in Lopeti Timani and Luke Jones inside the opening 35 minutes leaving the Rebels with just one genuine lock in Calum Retallick on the field for over a half of rugby. When you’re going up against the likes of Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit it’s always going to be a monster challenge!
Set piece woes
The Rebels set piece was under threat from the first scrum which led to Tony McGahan substituting Cruze Ah-Nau after just 26 minutes to bring on experienced prop Laurie Weeks. While that was a short term solution, it didn’t last long when the Rebels lost both locks. Eben Etzebeth managed to win five lineout against the Rebels throw with one even leading to try at a pivotal point in the match.
Du Plessis shines for Stormers
Jean-Luc du Plessis is in his first year of Super Rugby having only debuted in round four this year. He looked right at home as he controlled the game from the opening minute with his boot. Du Plessis finished the night with 27 points to his name. It wasn’t just through his boot that he was influential but his support play throughout the match was enough to seal the victory for the Stormers.
Amy Perrett milestone
It’s been well publicised during the week that Amy Perrett was to become the first female assistant referee in Super Rugby. She seemed to hold nerve and made a sensational call in the 52 minute when Jonah Placid slid over for the Rebels third try to give them the lead. Perrett positioned herself perfectly to make the correct call and allowing referee Angus Gardner to award the try.