Waratahs fail English exam
A brace of tries by former Wallaby Sevens star Tom English helped the Melbourne Rebels record a historic first victory over the Waratahs, winning a tense and entertaining match 24-22 at AAMI stadium.
The result places a massive dent in the Waratahs hopes of making the playoffs, and they will struggle to do so now, but it was celebrated by the home side as if they had won the Super Rugby championship.
Following their win over the Stormers last weekend the Rebels produced a stunning display of passion and pride, especially in defence where they kept the Waratahs out for large portions of the game.
At one stage, late in the second half, they made a telling turnover after 22 phases to stop the Sydney side, and then proceeded to rumble downfield a few minutes later to score the winning try.
Considering they are without their superstars in James O’Connor, Cooper Vuna and Kurtley Beale, all three of which are fighting either injury or other demons at the moment, the Rebels showed they are more than the sum of those stars on a night they will remember for a long time.
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Opening their account with a penalty from the ever improving Jason Woodward, the Rebels took the initiative by running a turnover into the Waratahs half in the 10th minute, with Hugh Pyle going first before the ball was recycled and sent wide for English to run it in at the corner.
Another Woodward penalty to three first half efforts from Berrick Barnes saw the home side lead at the break 13-9 as the game tended to produce more errors than exceptional moves, although it never bordered on boring.
Early in the second half, the Waratahs made inroads into the Rebels 22, only for the home side to produce an exceptional turnover on their own line. However, with the counter attack on, they rushed the pass wide with Israel Folau swooping in to intercept and score a cruel, but very legitimate try and put the visitors 16-13 up.
From there the game was dominated by tense mistakes, and the boots as 16-13 became 19-all and then 22-19 in the Waratahs favour as the clock ticked down.
But then, with the Tahs dominating attack and camping in the Rebels half for almost 10 minutes, the fateful turnover came. A few minutes later the Rebels were downfield and on attack and sensing blood they went wide with Cadeyrn Neville coming into the line and drawing two players it made a perfect gap for English to scamper in at the corner.
The try was all the Rebels needed as they held out for the final four minutes to score another big win and set another small record for the season.
Rebels - Tries: Tom English (2). Conversion: Jason Woorward. Penalties: Woorward (4).
Waratahs - Try: Israel Folau. Conversion: Berrick Barnes. Penalties: Barnes (5).