Rebels vs Brumbies: Five things we learned

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

The Rebels emerged as the team to beat in the Australian Conference on Friday.

Here's what we learned from the 33-10 result at AAMI Park.

1. Wessels ups the ante

Through his year as coach of the Force, Dave Wessels repeatedly spoke about wanting to play an up tempo, entertaining brand of rugby.

The Force flashed signs of that but the majority of their six wins last year was built on smart, tactical rugby.Dave Wessels has the Rebels clicking. Photo: Getty ImagesWessels has combined that smart, tactical rugby with arguably the most talented roster of all the Australian Super Rugby clubs, producing the kind of firepower Melbourne brandished against the Brumbies.

It helps when Will Genia is the one calling the shots from halfback but Melbourne are playing high octane, flat, sideline to sideline rugby that puts forwards over the gain line and creates space for Genia to unleash his fellow backs.

It's brilliant to watch in full flight and the lead up to Reece Hodge's try was near perfect attacking rugby.

2. No love lost

The Brumbies came out like a rocket - clearly trying to set a better tone after a lacklustre loss to the Reds - and the Rebels duly responded.

Amanaki Mafi led the charge with his typically physical carries but he was a pest of sorts in between whistles, too, often drawing a rise from his opponents.

There were some pushing and shoving early and that set the tone for the night, which is to be expected when a club starts to challenge the reigning champs for the very first time.

3. Monstrous Mafi

Amanaki Mafi was at his destructive best against the Brumbies. Photo: Getty ImagesSpeaking of Mafi, what a performance this was.

Genia was the orchestrator but Mafi was the chief in the engine room, racking up 91 metres from 17 carries which also featured five tackle busts, a line break, a try and a try assist.

Throw in 10 tackles and you have a destructive performance that had the AAMI Park crowd on the edge of their seats every time the ball hit his hands.

4. Brumbies scrum resurgence

After copping a beating at scrum time last week, the Brumbies front row can hold their head high after dominating at the set piece.

Before the Rebels blew the game open in the second half it was the central theme of the Brumbies' performance, along with their trusty rolling maul.

5. Koroibete, Hardwick return in style

Marika Koroibete and Richard Hardwick made their first appearances for Melbourne from the bench in the second half and both applied themselves particularly well.

Wessels has some almighty selection headaches in the weeks to come as Jack Maddocks was again one of Melbourne's better players and the backrow was tireless all night.