Five things we learnt from Melbourne Rebels-ACT Brumbies

Fri, Feb 23, 2024, 10:17 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Corey Toole scores his second try in Round 1 of Super Rugby Pacific 2024

It was a true round-one contest as ACT Brumbies grinded their way to a 30-3 victory over the Melbourne Rebels.

The rust showed throughout the match as both teams struggled for handling but the Brumbies kept producing those classy moments to sink the Rebels.

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So what did we learn?

1 All the Tooles

If he is fit, Corey Toole has to be wearing some form of gold in July.

The winger showed no sign of second-year syndrome with a great chip and chase in the 3rd minute to burn fellow Sevens convert Lachie Anderson. He looked destined to score every time he touched the ball and he quickly found his second backing up a Noah Lolesio break.

He just keeps getting better and provides a genuine X-Factor for Joe Schmidt if he opts to hand him a debut.

If not, John Manenti will be desperate to get Toole back for the Paris Olympics. He could be the difference maker when the Aussies have to deal with the likes of Argentina, NZ and France.

2. First blood Noah

In the battle of the tens, Noah Lolesio earned the points decision over Carter Gordon at AAMI Park.

Gordon wasn’t bad, but his early penalty miss and missing touch from a 60th-minute penalty were signs of the half still building into the season.

No such lag for Lolesio, who looks full of confidence after his Toulon stint. 

His willingness to take on the line has been an issue in the past and a reason for Wallabies non-selection in the past so the sign of Lolesio breaking the line and putting Toole over will catch the eyes of selectors.

It’s always tough to judge these battles when one forward pack is getting considerable quicker ball for their playmaker, but that sign of improvement from Lolesio is enough to give him the edge.

3. When it rains, it pours

The Rebels' woes continued on the field as the toll of a turbulent off-season showed on the field.

They constantly applied pressure but when the time was right to strike, it all fell apart. Five lineout losses, mainly close to their line, is hard to swallow for fans.

There were some bright spots. Andrew Kellaway was excellent with limited opportunities, as was Matt Gibbon in demolishing the Brumbies scrum. New recruit Filipo Daugunu also looked strong in patches.

The Rob Leota no-try summed it up: Great play in patches but proving their worse enemy when it comes to actually finding the line.

4. Cale announces himself

Charlie Cale has filled the void left by Pete Samu perfectly with a standout performance.

Cale was one of the best for the Brumbies in the trials and his wonderful kick and chase try will endear him to Rugby fans in 2024 as part of an excellent night for the Uni-Norths Owls backrowers

Not only this, he is a great lineout poacher with multiple steals, something the Brumbies need for their back row to gel with two non-jumping threats in Reimer and Valetini.

It’s a pleasing sign for Stephen Larkham as he rewards one of the standout performers from the John I Dent Cup.

5. The Tupou rollercoaster 

Rebels fans got the full Taniela Tupou experience in his stint off the bench.

With ball in hand, he looked devastating as the prop bumped off defenders and threw some great offloads.

Unfortunately, he fell badly on his wrist and looked hampered for the rest of his stint.

Tupou is a genuine game-changer and can unlock the Rebels' attack. As has been the case in his career, the trick is for him to stay healthy 

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