ACT Brumbies book home quarter-final with Rebels victory

Fri, Jun 2, 2023, 11:15 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
The Brumbies look to lock up a top four spot against the Rebels

The ACT Brumbies have secured a top four finish with a 33-17 win over the Melbourne Rebels in Canberra.

It ensures Stephen Larkham's side will face the Hurricanes in the quarter-finals for the second year in a row as they claim a bonus-point victory.

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The game was in the balance when Carter Gordon continued his impressive season with a great try to give the visitors a 10-7 lead after 25 minutes.

However, the Brumbies scored 21 unanswered points to take the game away from the Rebels, headlined by a stunning effort from Tom Wright.

A late try to Andy Muirhead sealed maximum points as they rebound from a pair of defeats, eliminating the Rebels from finals contention.

The game started as a midfield battle as both teams traded turnovers at the breakdown.

Richard Hardwick and Brad Wilkin continued their strong seasons to keep the Rebels on the attack early on.

Needing a spark, once again Corey Toole was the man to light up the GIO Stadium, tip-toeing down the sidelines and beating the fullback for the opener.

Carter Gordon took the chance to make a statement in what was his final audition for Eddie Jones.

He ran the perfect line to back up prop Matt Gibbon to dive under the posts untouched in a positive outing for the young ten that included a late 50-22.

In his 100th game, Reece Hodge was handed an early break before half-time, yellow carded for falling to roll after a great break from Rob Valetini.

From the resulting scrum, Valetini was stopped by ref Angus Gardner, however, teammate Connal McInerney found his way over a phase last to take a 14-10 lead into the break.

The Rebels' struggle with injury continued as Jordan Uelese, Alex Mafi and Andrew Kellaway departed for HIAs in the first half.

It’s the second time in the past eight games that the Rebels have lost both hookers, leading to Richard Hardwick throwing in at the lineout and uncontested scrums for the second half. 

With the Rebels lacking continuity, the Brumbies were able to strike and produce one of the tries of the year just after the break.

It started and finished with Wallaby Tom Wright, who collected the loose ball inside his own 22 before racing away, stopped by a great chase from Carter Gordon.

Wright kept the play alive for Corey Toole before a great carry and offload from Len Ikitau allowed the fullback to dive over in the corner.

Wallabies lock Nick Frost would’ve given Eddie Jones a fright when he hyperextended his leg and went to the ground in agony. Amid the anarchy, the Brumbies centres combined for their fourth try for Ollie Sapsford to cross as the towering lock brushed off the ugly incident to finish the game.

From here, the Brumbies closed out the game with a long-range effort from Andy Muirhead to ensure a home quarter-final against the Hurricanes, who defeated the ACT side 32-27 in April.

"We're certainly pleased with the result," coach Stephen Larkgham said.

"They've troubled us every time we've played them ... they trouble us at the breakdown. They've got some really good poachers out there on the field, they go really hard with their tackle contest.

"They were obviously chasing a finals spot, throwing the ball around a fair bit, so good composure from our guys just to stay in those passages."

As for the Rebels, they once again finish the year just outside of the top eight as Kevin Foote looks to the future following the departure of Reece Hodge.


TRIES: Toole, McInerney, Wright, Sapsford, Muirhead

CONS: Debreczeni 4/4, Mogg 0/1


TRIES: Gordon, Wilkin

CONS: Hodge 2/2

PENS: Hodge 1/1


BRUMBIES (1-15): Fred Kaihea, Connal McInerney, Sefo Kautai, Nick Frost, Cadeyrn Neville, Tom Hooper, Jahrome Brown, Rob Valetini, Nic White (c), Jack Debreczeni, Corey Toole, Ollie Sapsford, Len Ikitau, Andy Muirhead, Tom Wright

RESERVES: Billy Pollard, Blake Schoupp, Rhys Van Nek, Pete Samu, Luke Reimer, Ryan Lonergan, Tamati Tua, Jesse Mogg

REBELS (1-15): Matt Gibbon, Jordan Uelese, Sam Talakai, Josh Canham, Matt Philip, Josh Kemeny, Brad Wilkin (c), Richard Hardwick, Ryan Louwrens, Carter Gordon, Monty Ioane, Nick Jooste, Reece Hodge, Lachie Anderson, Andrew Kellaway

RESERVES: Alex Mafi, Isaac Aedo Kailea, Pone Fa'amausili, Trevor Hosea, Vaiolini Ekuasi, James Tuttle, Stacey Ili, Joe Pincus

Referee: Angus Gardner

Assistant Referees: Damon Murphy, Matt Kellahan