The Rebels escaped with a draw in Durban.
What did we learn from the early morning stalemate?
1. Duck still quacking
The Rebels still can’t shake their South African struggles, though they got the closest they possibly could in Durban, with a 9-9 draw. In a grinding affair, they had a number of chances to turn the game in their favour but couldn’t punish the Sharks. Nic Stirzaker described it as ‘one for the purists’ post-match but that probably insults purists’ judgement. The Rebels have another crack to break the bagel, against the Kings next week, but that looks far from a gimme.
2. Lineout headaches
They’ve had some casualties in this area but the lineout was again a glaring problem for the Rebels. Three won against the throw from 12 attempts is not a great statistic, particularly as the Sharks finished with a perfect record from 23 set piece plays. The Rebels are not alone in battling in the lineout in Australia, but a strong play on Sunday morning could have been a game changer.
3. Lopsided penalty count a Rebels concern
They gave away three yellow cards, two to skipper Nic Stirzaker, doing his best impression of Beauden Barrett, but that was just the surface of a worrying disciplinary count for the Rebels. The final penalty count finished at 18-7 and had Curwin Bosch kicked more accurately a draw could have been out of the question well before Reece Hodge stepped up for his final kick.
4. Lomax on the rise
Tyrel Lomax showed exactly why coach Tony McGahan opted to give him and Siliva Siliva a start in Durban, with an exciting opening showing against the Sharks. The 20-year-old has impressed all the right people, including Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, this year and didn’t hurt that progression on Sunday morning. A powerful scrummager, Lomax showed some attacking potency too. A dangerous blend for opponents as his experience grows.
5. MIller steps up on debut
From Berry to Durban, via Melbourne, there were plenty of keen eyes on Will Miller this week. The Norths skipper was handed a Super Rugby chance, after heading south as injury cover last week, and while he wasn’t the match winner he showed he is more than up to the Super Rugby standard. The 24-year-old finished with a game-high four turnovers and surely earned himself another go. Miller might be thanking Reece Hodge at some point this week, who clinched the draw with his final kick, after Miller conceded what was nearly the match-winning penalty.