Brumbies vs Rebels: Five things we learned

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

The Rebels scraped past the Brumbies at the death on the back of Reece Hodge's boot.

This is what we learned from the 27-24 result.

1. Hodge heroics

Reece Hodge could do no wrong in Canberra. Photo: Getty ImagesReece Hodge took the reins at flyhalf in place of Jack Debreczeni with just under 30 to play and Melbourne's attack was unrecognisable from the kick first unit that stumbled their way to 10 first half points.Hodge led the charge as Melbourne ran the ball from their own half and they were immediately rewarded through two tries - one to Jack Maddocks, the other to Semisi Tupou - which put them back in the match. Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has long thought of Hodge as an option at flyhalf and one has to wonder whether Rebels coach Dave Wessels may push his match-winner there more often.

2. Maddocks makes mark

Maddocks sparked Melbourne's resurgent second half with a try in the 61st minute and it was just rewards for his best game since the Rebels' hot start to the season. The star fullback is a barometer of sorts for Melbourne as when he plays well, it's usually off the back of a dominant Rebels pack. A pair of tackle busts, line break and 72 metres with ball in hand capped a superb night.

3. Valetini aims up

Rob Valetini has a big future ahead of him. Photo: Getty ImagesIt was just a flash but in one fell swoop in the 30th minute, Brumbies young gun Rob Valetini showed the Super Rugby world what he is capable of. ACT had peppered the Rebels line for little reward with Amanaki Mafi in the sin bin but that quickly changed when Valetini ran a perfect line between two Melbourne defenders at full tilt, Joe Powell hitting him on the chest as he crashed over the line. It was the perfect example of the devastating combination Valetini boasts - a 193cm, 113kg frame and a dash of rugby smarts.The latter element has long been missing from many an Australian player's game.

4. Rebels in touch

The comeback win snapped Melbourne's five game losing streak and kept them in touch with the Waratahs, now just one point behind the conference leaders. The Waratahs have a game in hand but the pair have cleared out from the Reds, who blew their chance to stay in touch with a woeful performance against the Sunwolves.

5. Brumbies blow finals hopes

The Brumbies are still 10 points adrift of the Waratahs and with just six rounds remaining, their finals prospects appear slim. It was the Brumbies' first loss to the Rebels after leading at the break, another blown opportunity summing up their season.