What can we take out of Sunday's Aussie thriller?
1.Pecking order has changed
The Brumbies might still be the standout Aussie team but the Rebels have shown they want to shake things up. In just their second win against the Waratahs and first in Sydney, the Melbourne side proved they can show the improvement they had professed was there all summer. The Rebels now sit equal in points with the Brumbies and six clear of the Waratahs a third of the way into the season. The Waratahs have plenty of opportunity to make up ground on the Melbourne franchise and they’ll need to take those with both hands.
2. Ta’avao’s troubles continue
Angus Ta’avao has been under immense pressure already this season as the Tahs’ scrum woes have grown but he had a bit more to worry about on Sunday. It was two defensive errors from Ta’avao that ended up in the Rebels’ opening tries. He was replaced at half-time by Tom Robertson, as the Waratahs attempted to fight their way back. It’s the worst case scenario for any player and he will need to pick up his act as the season goes on.
3. Bad birthday for Izzy
Things didn’t quite go to script for milestone man Israel Folau. On the verge of equalling the Waratahs’ try-scoring record and in his 50th Super Rugby caps, the fullback was sent to the bin before the opening half was even over. While he threatened the line on the odd occasion, Folau didn’t reach his usual lofty standards, finishing with just 52 metres and no tries.
4. Ain’t nobody got time for comebacks
It didn’t work against the Highlanders a fortnight ago and it didn’t work against the Rebels on Sunday. Giving up a double digit margin in the opening half doesn’t equate to winning matches. Again the Waratahs put on a thrilling fight in the second 40, narrowing an 18-point deficit to just four points with seven minutes left but it was not enough.
5.Stirzy’s stuttery start
The Melbourne Rebels captain finally got to lead out his team on Sunday but that was about where the positives ended for Nic Stirzaker. On and off twice before half-time, Stirzaker played no part in the second 40 minutes. Has been an incredibly frustrating start to the season for the 24-year-old, who had a golden opportunity to push his Wallabies credentials up against Nick Phipps on Sunday.