Are the Rebels back on track in 2016? Can they stay on top of the Australian Conference by the end of Round 9? What did we learn from the Melbourne Rebels 36-15 victory over the Cheetahs?
1. Baby on board
What a night for Tamati Ellison! It was talked about during the week that Ellison and his wife were expecting their fourth child but the timing couldn’t have been worse. Ellison found out during the warm-up that his wife had gone into labour. It all worked out for the Rebels star who’s baby boy was born just prior to kick off, and his evening was capped off with the final try of the night! Congrats to the Ellison family.
2. Consistency issues
The Rebels have struggled with match-to-match consistency in 2016 and it was again on show tonight. Melbourne suffered a disappointing loss to the Hurricanes last Friday but bounced back in their bonus point victory over the Cheetahs tonight. Head Coach McGahan will be looking for another strong showing against the Blues next weekend, however the Rebels need to ensure their set piece continues to improve, in particular their restarts.
3. What could have been..
If you didn’t watch the match and saw the final score, you’d expect that the Rebels dominated the Cheetahs. In a way, yes. They put on 26 unanswered points in the second half but their victory could have been even bigger if they executed their chances early. The Rebels had 85% possession in the opening 15 minutes but the Cheetahs defence held strong.
4. Reece Hodge continues to shine (and the grass still isn’t fine)
We all remember his stellar debut for the Rebels in Round One where he played in three positions and scored 20 points, and Hodge was back to his best tonight. In yet another position, this time at outside centre, he found gaps and showed his speed to score two tries for the Rebels. Hodge continues to show how much of a threat he is in attack. What a find for the Rebels!
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5. Up and down week for the Cheetahs
It’s crazy to think that this time last week the Cheetahs recorded the second biggest winning margin in Super Rugby history in their 93-17 drubbing of the Sunwolves. Fast forward a week and the South African side will need to go back to the drawing board as the suffered their sixth loss of the season. Talk about mixed emotions!