Well it was a game that had it all, with a red card, some monster hits, stadium lights going out - and a memorable Rebels win.
Melbourne held on and the men from Perth showed they aren't a spent Force, but what did we learn?
Pre-register for Stan Sport now to watch every minute of Super Rugby AU. The new add-on Sport package is available for just $10 a month with customers able to get a 30-day free trial for a limited time only.
1. Marika magic
Yet again, Marika turned it on. He is simply on another level right now. The winger was in everything and set up Joe Powell’s try off a silky set piece move by the Rebels. But go back and watch the tape and see how he STEAMS onto a Tom Pincus short ball for a momentum swinging break in the second half. Young wingers, make some notes on this performance.
2. Cabous Eloff
Johannes Jacobus Cabous Eloff. We loved his pink budgies last year but now - wow - he is the real deal. Some great moments in the opening two rounds but the ‘Cob Loaf’ (we’re pushing for the nickname..don’t think it will stick) was outstanding at HBF Park in a man of the match display. He’ll probably cop an earful for his little quick tap/bomb as the Rebels were on the attack, but Cabous more than made up for it around the ground on Friday night. His scrummaging is top shelf and his physicality on both sides of the ball is game changing. A quick Wikipedia search highlights that he’s just 22 years old!! Born in South Africa but when is he eligible for the Wallabies?
3. Lights out
The refs were pulling out the law book with ten minutes left to play after the stadium lights went out at HBF Park. Referee Graham Cooper said to both teams that he couldn’t let the game continue without confirmation, and while the Force gameday staff went into overdrive to keep the fans entertained, questions started to rise whether it should play on, and who would win. But after a 10 minute interlude, officials decided that it was safe to continue despite the lights remaining off.
4. Force resolve
There were some moments of attacking brilliance on Friday night but the defensive grit shone through, and kept both teams at bay. Michael Wells put a bellringing shot on Tevita Kuridrani before Byron Ralston rattled the ribcage of Tom Pincus. But the Force showed great resolve to claw back after going down 10-nil, and by the end the Rebels were really just hanging on.
5. First Nations Round
What a great way to open up the inaugural First Nations Round. A brilliant Welcome to Country at HBF Park and the two teams looked fantastic in their specially designed jerseys. The activities at the game capped a special week with all four participating teams acknowledging, and celebrating, Australia’s First Nations culture through educational events midweek.
GAME THAT HAD IT ALL: Rebels hang on in the west
THORN'S CHALLENGE: The coach lays down the gauntlet
FREAK OF NATURE: Sonny Bill hailed as the great bows out