Rebels vs Chiefs: Five things we learned

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

The Rebels were markedly better against the Chiefs in a 27-14 loss tonight.

Here's what we learned from the clash at AAMI Park.

1. Kicking woes costly

He's typically a sharpshooter from anywhere inside 60 metres but Reece Hodge missed three very kickable penalties in the first 20 minutes which would have applied significant pressure on the Chiefs.Reece Hodge was 0/3 off the tee tonight. Photo: WalmsleyThe pair of late Chiefs tries blew the result out past a nine point margin but the Rebels were better than the visitors in the first half and Hodge's missed shots meant they did not capitalise pressure into a lead at the break.

2. Mafi a major force

Amanaki Mafi has been the Rebels' best player in their first two matches and he was among their best again tonight.

He forced a pair of penalties in the first 12 minutes which set the tone for the breakdown battle throughout the rest of the match and was dominant with ball in hand.

His line break which split the Chiefs defensive line up the middle in the second half was scary good.

Mafi's stat line of 14 runs for 49 metres, three tackle busts, one line break and two offloads tells the story of the amount of work he churned through.

3. Rebels yet to put 80 minutes together

Melbourne were thrashed after the 15 minute mark in their first two matches and were comprehensively beaten after the 75 minute mark tonight.

It's one of the oldest cliches in rugby but it is so important to play the full 80 minutes - particularly against opposition from across the ditch.

The Reds paid the price last Saturday and the Rebels paid the price tonight.

4. Garden-Bachop, Debreczeni on the up

Jackson Garden-Bachop was impressive at flyhalf tonight. Photo: WalmsleyThe playmaking pair thrived on front foot ball tonight.

They have had very little of that important resource in their first two matches but showed what they could do with some help from their forward pack tonight.

Garden-Bachop caused consistent defensive headaches as he probed the line and Debreczeni was dangerous with every touch.

He racked up a stat line of 13 runs for 97 metres, four tackle busts, two line breaks and four offloads in his best game at fullback.

5. Twin wing towers hit top gear

Marika Koroibete was widely criticised after his debut for the Rebels against the Hurricanes.

That was largely unfounded as there are very few wingers in world rugby that would have had an impact in the 71-5 drubbing.Sefa Naivalu made an immediate impact in his first game of the year. Photo: WalmsleyThe Fijian showed what he was capable of tonight.

He made five impressive runs for 54 metres and put a trademark finish on the end of a sweeping movement for Melbourne's only try.

Sefa Naivalu was similarly imposing on the right wing in his first match of 2017.

If Garden-Bachop can continue to create space for this pair, Melbourne's stocks will continue to rise.