RaboDirect Rebels defeated by Southern Kings 30-27

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By Rebels Media Unit

The RaboDirect Rebels returned home after three weeks on the road as they hosted the competition's newest side, the Southern Kings, in Melbourne for the first time.

On the back of last week's win at NIB Stadium against the Western Force, the Rebels made a key change to their starting lineup as James O'Connor moved to flyhalf as part of a backline re-shuffle. Cooper Vuna replaced rookie Angus Roberts, his first start since returning home early from the South African tour for disciplinary reasons.
The Kings secured a massive upset last weekend when they drew 28 all with Australian conference leaders, the Brumbies, in Canberra, and right from the outset the Rebels knew they had a tough task ahead of them. 
But they started positively, and Richard Kingi thought he had scored the opening points of the game when he touched down in the sixth minute, only to be pulled back as the result of a knock-on by Scott Higginbotham in the lead up. 
And despite dominating early possession, it was the Kings' Ronald Cooke who scored in the corner just two minutes later and when Demetri Catrakilis added the extras it was an early 7-0 lead to the visitors. Just ten minutes later, Shaun Venter scored after waltzing through untouched from a Kings' lineout and with the kick again successful, they doubled their lead.
Kingi injured himself attempting to prevent the first try and was replaced by Roberts, with dangerous playmaker O'Connor still pulling the strings in the number 10 jersey and the replacement heading south to play fullback. 
The Rebels were still enjoying the lion's share of the ball, but were unable to make it count when it mattered. Not long after O'Connor was unsuccessful with his first kick attempt of the evening, Mitch Inman failed to capitalise on good work from Woodward when the Rebels looked to have the Kings stretched out wide.
However hooker Ged Robinson was able to show the Rebels backs how it was done in the 26th minute when he crossed for his third five pointer of the season. Paul Alo-Emile had taken advantage of a penalty in range with a quick tap to set up the try, and O'Connor kicked truly and then added another penalty shortly later, only for Catrakilis to do the same and retain the seven point advantage as the second half drew towards a close.
But the Rebels were determined to get level before the interval, and Nic Henderson jumped into scrumhalf to set up a first Super Rugby try for replacement Roberts. O'Connor's kick was sensational, and at the break the score was 17-17 with the momentum swinging massively in the Rebels' favour.
The Rebels took the lead for the first time just three minutes into the second half when O'Connor slotted three more points from a slight angle, and then Mitch Inman joined Venter and Roberts as he scored his first Super Rugby try in his 39th appearance at this level. 
Nick Phipps and O'Connor had been taking the opposition on and the third try was the Rebels' just desserts, with O'Connor making no mistake with another tough conversion from out wide.
Catrakilis and O'Connor traded penalties as a grandstand final fifteen minutes was set up, but the competition new boys continued to push the hosts all the way.
Replacement flanker Jordy Reid was eventually shown a yellow card in the 74th minute after the Rebels failed to heed the referees warnings and were punished for repeated offside indiscretions. The Kings muscled their way across the line through Wimpie van der Velt immediately, and when Catrakilis slotted the kick scores were level and the visitors had a golden opportunity to claim their first win on Australian soil thanks to their one-man advantage.
Things went from bad to worse for the Rebels when Woodward's restart flew directly into touch on the full, and when the referee spotted an indiscretion and blew his whistle literally two seconds before the final hooter went you couldn't help but feel that the Rebel’s curse against South African sides was set to continue.
The Kings took a scrum and looked to barge their way across the line, but flyhalf Catrakilis sat back and waited for a potential drop goal attempt. 
And after just three phases, Catrakilis was happy to take the shot when presented with a golden opportunity in front to land the killer blow which secured the points for the visiting side, taking the scores to 30-27.
The Rebels now have a bye in which they will surely reflect on what might have been, before a gruelling trek across the Tasman as they try to make it back to back victories against the Crusaders.
RaboDirect Rebels
1. Nic Henderson
2. Ged Robinson
3. Paul Alo-Emile
4. Hugh Pyle
5. Cadeyrn Neville
6. Luke Jones
7. Scott Fuglistaller
8. Scott Higginbotham (c)
9. Nick Phipps
10. James O'Connor
11. Cooper Vuna
12. Rory Sidey
13. Mitch Inman
14. Jason Woodward
15. Richard Kingi
16. Shota Horie
17. Laurie Weeks
18. Jordy Reid
19. Jarrod Saffy
20. Nic Stirzaker
21. Lachlan Mitchell
22. Angus Roberts
Southern Kings
1. Schalk Ferreira
2. Hannes Franklin
3. Grant Kemp
4. Steven Sykes
5. Rynier Bernardo
6. Devin Oosthuizen
7. Wimpie van der Walt
8. Cornell du Preez
9. Shaun Venter
10. Demetri Catrakilis
11. Ronnie Cooke
12. Andries Strauss
13. Waylon Murray
14. Sergeal Petersen
15. George Whitehead
16. Bandise Maku
17. Kevin Buys
18. David Bulbring
19. Jacques Engelbrecht
20. Nicolas Vergallo
21. Marcello Sampson
22. Siviwe Soyizwapi 
RaboDirect Rebels 27 (Robinson, Roberts Inman. O'Connor 2 penalties, 3 conversions) defeated by Southern Kings 30 (Cooke, Venter, van der Walt. Catrakilis 2 penalties 3 conversions 1 dropgoal).