The Rebels took a win in Perth on Saturday night.
What are we talking about after that clash?
1. Force show grit, Rebels prove class
The Force have cruised to relatively easy victories in their first two World Series Rugby matches, but they have notched their first loss of 2018, to the Rebels. It was a match that exposed the difference, at least structurally, between the two environments, with the Rebels training together since January and playing since February, and the Force’s lineup a moving beast. Though the match probably exposed some of the gulf between the World Series level and Super Rugby level, the Force put up a fight in difficult conditions and they walked off with their heads held high
2. No love lost between Force and Rebels
It was an emotionally-charged affair between the Rebels and the Force in Perth. It threatened to boil over at times, but things stayed just within the laws. That being said, there was clearly plenty of fire between the two sides, who both have had a tumultuous last 12 months. The Rebels have not shied away from how much this game means for them, with a number of ex-Force players, and there was clearly a hunger from the Perth boys to prove something to their visitors.
3. Adams shows his wares
One of the biggest advantages for the Rebels featuring in this clash was a chance to prove themselves in front of Dave Wessels, without the obstacle of having to overtake regular Wallabies starters for a spot. Tayler Adams, who has worked his way into the 23 in recent weeks, showed why he is so highly-rated. Henry Hutchison also falls into this category, with the winger starring for the Rebels, but yet to make his Super Rugby debut, sitting behind a host of top-line back three players.
4. Novelty not yet worn off
The Force’s crowds were always going to shrink after their first World Series match, but they still reported a 13,000-odd crowd in pouring rain on Saturday night. Though, we’re not inclined to fully believe an official crowd number, and tickets do begin at just $10 a pop in some cases, a figure in that ball park is as good as most Aussie Super Rugby sides. Add in the conditions and it's a positive result. With four more games to go, the challenge is to ensure these numbers don’t dwindle much further in their final four matches.
5. Biggest litmus test yet to come
Things will not get any easier for the Force in the next fortnight, with the Super Rugby champions, the Crusaders, coming their way. Though it won’t be their strongest side, any team from Christchurch is one to be feared and it will the most accurate litmus test for the Force and the standard of World Series Rugby.