Force vs Rebels: Five things we learned

Super Rugby
Matt Lewis Profile
by Matt Lewis

1. Dream debut

Can you ask for a better start to Super Rugby? Reece Hodge was originally meant to start on the wing on his debut but when flyhalf Jack Debreczeni was ruled out through injury, Hodge was shifted to fullback. The former Australian Schoolboy and Australia U20s star slotted in nicely, scoring two tries, two conversions and two penalties. We’re sure to be seeing a lot more of Hodge in the near future.

2. Battle of the new recruits

In a see-sawing match, it was the new recruits of both the Force and Rebels who shone brightly. All 44 points were scored by new recruits with Hodge finishing with 20, Jono Lance 19 (the entire Force score) and Adam Thomson five. Both teams were looking to add depth to their sides in the offseason and Tony McGahan and Michael Foley will happy with the impact from all.

3. Flyhalf issues

The Melbourne Rebels were already missing recently named skipper Nic Stirzaker through injury, but matters were made even worse when young flyhalf Jack Debreczeni was a late withdrawal from the side. Former Wallaby Mike Harris stepped up to fill the void but he only lasted 23 minutes, limping off with a hamstring injury. Rebels coach Tony McGahan will be hoping Debreczeni will be right to go for their tour of South Africa.

4. Tough conditions or feeling rusty?

It’s been a long pre-season for both sides and with temperatures hitting 40 degrees in Perth on Saturday it was always going to be tough. We all knew the Western Force were going to be playing a more attacking brand of Rugby in 2016, but they were let down by their handling errors. In hot, humid conditions the Force had five handling and seven turnovers inside the opening 15 minutes which let the Rebels into the match early to set the tone.

5. Backrow brilliance

The Melbourne Rebels have a plethora of backrow depth and that showed in Perth on Saturday night. Sean McMahon became the youngest ever Rebels captain and while he was someone quieter than usual he is a superstar of the future. Adam Thomson has slotted in nicely to the Rebels forward pack as the perfect replacement to Scott Higginbotham, Jordy Reid made the most of his start and his relentless work-rate was evident throughout the match. Colby Fainga’a who signed a new two-year deal earlier this week was monstrous off the bench and will be pushing for a start in the coming weeks.