Rebels fall late to fast-finishing Chiefs

Geoff Parkes Columnist

By Geoff Parkes, Geoff Parkes is a Roar Expert

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59 Have your say

    On a beautiful night for rugby in Melbourne, the Chiefs have maintained their place at the top of Super Rugby with a hard-fought win over a gallant, but ultimately outclassed Rebels, by 27-14.

    The Rebels actually led going into the 20 minutes, and had the Chiefs at 14-14 with only six minutes left, but despite the supportive home crowd, an upset win was snatched away.

    The first half in particular was punctuated by a lot of scrappy play, many turnovers and a high number of penalties; the interrupted flow of the game helping the home side more than the visitors.

    The match also featured some horrible kicking for goal – both Damien McKenzie and Reece Hodge will be hitting the training track hard next week! Both kicked at just 43 per cent for the match.

    Unlike their previous two games, the Rebels stayed in the game throughout, scrapping hard and competing well at the breakdown. As the second half went on they grew in confidence, but in the end they were let down by their scrum not holding up to a powerful Chiefs shunt, twice being pushed off their own ball.

    The Chiefs will bank the win but go home wondering where their fluidity went. Their discipline didn’t help; too many penalties given away and two players lost to the bin as well. Coach Dave Rennie later described this as “not respecting the ball, as opposed to not respecting the opposition.”

    Because of injury, Damien McKenzie didn’t stay long at flyhalf, but he was still a significant feature in the match. But it has to be said that, most of the Chiefs will not remember this as their best work.

    That said, in the final minutes their confidence returned and they managed a couple of tries which not only helped blow the score out, but will also have them leaving Melbourne a little happier.

    Clearly it was a much improved effort from the Rebels; more accurate in defence and, aside from some loose passing, offering much more in attack. Their try, to a flying Marika Koroibete, was a beauty and fans will be coming back for more of that.

    No 8 Amanaki Mafi had a busy match, very combative and lock Culum Retallick should be very happy with how he stood up to his much vaunted brother Brodie. An improved game too at fly-half from Jackson Garden-Bachop, which should have home fans a little more upbeat about future prospects.

    The Rebels and their fans will also be delighted that, at least for 80 minutes the focus was on actual rugby, and not speculation about the future of the franchise, or Will Genia or similar. It was a loss sure, but definitely an honourable one.

    Referee Federico Anselmi was a big player in the match, seemingly not wanting to blow so many penalties, but finding plenty all the same. This will be a big work-on for the Chiefs before their next match.

    In the end, an expected result, but not by the score most (including this writer) predicted. Contrary to some reports the Rebels are still very much alive and kicking and an enticing clash next week against the Waratahs lies in store.

    Final score;

    Chiefs 27
    Rebels 14

    Geoff Parkes
    Geoff Parkes

    Geoff is a Melbourne-based sports fanatic and writer who started contributing to The Roar in 2012 under the pen name Allanthus. His first book, A World in Union Conflict; The Global Battle For Rugby Supremacy, was released in December 2017 to critical acclaim. For details on the book visit Meanwhile, his twin goals of achieving a single figure golf handicap and owning a fast racehorse remain tantalisingly out of reach.

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    The Crowd Says (59)

    • Roar Guru

      March 18th 2017 @ 4:45am
      Carlos the Argie said | March 18th 2017 @ 4:45am | ! Report

      Anselmi again?

      He was in, he was out, he was at sevens and now he’s back?

      Buddy of AP9 (Pichot). I wonder if this is why he’s back….

      [Haven’t yet seen the game, so I may say something later.]

      • Columnist

        March 18th 2017 @ 7:56am
        Geoff Parkes said | March 18th 2017 @ 7:56am | ! Report

        It’s an interesting one Carlos, there was a lot of whistle, but of course that’s not always the fault of the referee. The Rebels competed hard at the breakdown and the Chief’s discipline, particularly in the first half was very lax.

        He certainly got all of the big calls right, although a TMO referral in the 2nd half, for a try to Damian McKenzie that was ruled out because the AR wrongly awarded the Chiefs the previous line-out throw, took far too long.

        • March 18th 2017 @ 12:54pm
          Rugby Tragic said | March 18th 2017 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

          20 penalties (12 first half) 9 awarded to Chiefs, 11 to Rebels plus 1 free kick. @ YC’s for Chiefs.

          Actually felt like more, ref seemed to be in the game, or at least he was certainly noticed!

          • March 18th 2017 @ 3:17pm
            Mapu said | March 18th 2017 @ 3:17pm | ! Report

            I found the ref inconsistent.14 mins in he misses a blatant shepherd and then Cane gets over the tackler but no penalty but when chiefs had the ball in the table the ref had a different take on things.To name a few.

      • March 18th 2017 @ 11:04am
        Jibba Jabba said | March 18th 2017 @ 11:04am | ! Report

        Callum is a cousin not a brother….

    • Roar Guru

      March 18th 2017 @ 8:13am
      taylorman said | March 18th 2017 @ 8:13am | ! Report

      Yes perhaps the talking of getting the chop has inspired the Rebels but geez sometimes I wish the Blues would get these top sides on their offdays?

      • March 18th 2017 @ 1:09pm
        Rugby Tragic said | March 18th 2017 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

        TM, we had the Red and Black in the early game but Parsons decided to try and protect a lead rather than continue to run the ball at their opponents. Once their pack got going we were never going to hold out. Not good captaincy and/or game strategy from the coaches box I’m afraid.

    • March 18th 2017 @ 9:46am
      Ray said | March 18th 2017 @ 9:46am | ! Report

      It matters not how ”courageous” the Rebel were in defeat. In reality it amounts to another loss by an Aussie side so early in the Comp.

      • March 18th 2017 @ 10:40am
        In Brief said | March 18th 2017 @ 10:40am | ! Report

        It absolutely matters. The Blues lost a close one in Christchurch – do we drop them from the comp? Issue isn’t winning or losing it is competitiveness – unless you believe every team can win??

        • March 18th 2017 @ 12:52pm
          Johnny J-Dog said | March 18th 2017 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

          The fact is that watching the game you knew it was going to be yet another brave defeat. I’m a Reds fan but always support the Oz teams when they play an O/S team so I get just as frustrated and disappointed as a Rebels supporter and I am sick to death of brave defeats. With just 4 Super teams, the standard of the Oz teams will lift overall and make the difference between brave defeats and tough wins which then translates into more viewers. Each Australian team has a handful of players who are simply not SR standard and in the Rebels that includes Jordy Reid and Jack Debreczeni and others. Without suggesting that the Brumbies should be disbanded, imagine adding a handful of Brumbies to teams like Rebels and the Force. I’d love to see Pocock return to the Rebels. They will become strong teams with depth who will do us all proud.

          • Roar Guru

            March 18th 2017 @ 5:23pm
            Fionn said | March 18th 2017 @ 5:23pm | ! Report

            Hold on, if the Brumbies are the best Australian team, and the argument for getting rid of Australian team is that the Australian teams aren’t good enough then why would we get rid of the best Australian team?

            • March 18th 2017 @ 8:05pm
              Johnny J-Dog said | March 18th 2017 @ 8:05pm | ! Report

              If Brumbies are the best (a big if) then it is thanks largely to players and coaches who are not from Canberra. I think the argument is that Melbourne and Perth have the greater potential for the future in terms of producing home-grown players and a larger following. After all these years, Brumbies still heavily rely on importing players from other Oz teams and last week there was only 8,000 spectators. One team should go and we have to look to the future.

              • March 19th 2017 @ 12:27am
                Bakkies said | March 19th 2017 @ 12:27am | ! Report

                Absolute bollocks from start to finish in that post Johnny

              • March 19th 2017 @ 11:04am
                Republican said | March 19th 2017 @ 11:04am | ! Report

                …..they are again blooding unknown locals actually but sport is global and Rugby in this nation has always relied heavily on a PI and Kiwi diaspore for its stocks, as now does Rugby League.

          • March 18th 2017 @ 6:50pm
            Tigranes said | March 18th 2017 @ 6:50pm | ! Report

            Johnny pocock was never with the rebels

            • March 18th 2017 @ 7:54pm
              Johnny J-Dog said | March 18th 2017 @ 7:54pm | ! Report

              Return as in return to Australia obviously.

          • March 19th 2017 @ 11:02am
            Republican said | March 19th 2017 @ 11:02am | ! Report

            …..the Brumbies have lost a significant number of their marquee list for 2017 but they are blooding some up and comers and remain competitive.
            The Brumbies have always managed to create something out of an assumed nothing and that is a strong reason for keeping them in tact and in Canberra.
            Moving them to Melbourne will not guarantee the same results or culture, in fact they will likely devolve insignificant to the world and Australian rugby if that were to transpire.
            You cannot appropriate something that has taken 21 years or more to build and that is integral to the community it represents.
            The historic DNA of the code in the nations capital, while a smaller demographic, is worth far more than any potential pie in the sky commercial boon (that Melbourne assume as a right by virtue of their insatiable commercial status), that is unlikely to ever be realised anyway.

    • March 18th 2017 @ 9:53am
      puff said | March 18th 2017 @ 9:53am | ! Report

      What a difference a couple of weeks make. Perhaps it was the weeks rest; whatever the resurgent’s the new found motivation and focus was enjoyable to watch last evening. In earlier endeavours they could only manage limited periods of sustained pressure but against the Chiefs there were real possibilities. With that said; all the static about the future of various OZ franchisers is not a healthy environment for any professional competition. Therefore the ARU’s continual silence is not a positive, for team supports, administrators, sponsors and particularly players. Hence, it was refreshing to watch a team under a cloud who displayed character and were dreaming the unthinkable.

      • Columnist

        March 18th 2017 @ 10:10am
        Geoff Parkes said | March 18th 2017 @ 10:10am | ! Report

        The thing is puff, whatever decision is made about Super Rugby, the idea that the SANZAAR bosses can meet and decide to cut teams on the basis of their win/loss records and then quickly announce that to the world and get on with life, well… all of that sort of speculation as we’ve seen this week misrepresents the situation and causes a lot of unnecessary angst for fans.

        The people who hold the strings here are the people who pay for the competition. If SANZAAR goes to the TV rights holders to suggest an amended/reduced competition, those networks have to do their sums, look at their schedules and decide if that works for them – given the millions of dollars they’ve shelled out.

        And that would certainly take more than a day or two to sort out.

        Where SANZAAR has failed is not sorting out their future in the off season, then reacting to pressure after one or two rounds, subsequently causing terrible angst for the teams potentially in the gun, and their fans right in the middle of the season.

        As you say puff, it was refreshing to see the Rebels put this to the side and at least give it a real crack last night.

    • March 18th 2017 @ 10:17am
      Old Bugger said | March 18th 2017 @ 10:17am | ! Report

      No disrespect to the Rebs but the Chiefs effort last night, doesn’t rate higher than a D even though, they won. That was an undeserved BP and the Rebs IMO, deserved the BP. Rennie blames discipline issues but I blame his game-plan. Discipline will always become a factor when you go into a match, as red-hot favourite and nothing goes right, from the kick-off.

      Nothing went right because the physicality the Chiefs showed in their first 3 games, for some reason or other, decided to take a holiday. They stood off the break-downs hence they lost, numerous turn-overs without getting in and cleaning out, to preserve their possession. And by standing off, they allowed the Rebs to pick-n-go, at will. Hats off to the Rebs for recognising this facet of play by the Chiefs and exploiting it.

      Macca will have taken some lessons from last night especially, his right boot… went on holiday also. I was at a loss with Beaver – I thought he was there to provide some good old leadership but it too IMO, went on a holiday. I’ve been raving about Dom Bird lately but last night, he showed that he needs to bend that 2.05m frame down a bit lower, when he runs the ball up. He got caught too many times in the upright position and turned-over too much maul ball. As for overall leadership, gees the Chiefs had experience in spades but, it took 65mins before someone clicked and got everyone, onto the same page.

      There needs to be a tidy up in that area for sure – if Cane can’t handle it then give it back, to Cruden but last night, wasn’t an advertisement at all, about using your experience and leadership – two facets of play that IMO, also went on a holiday for a seemingly longer period than, anyone should accept.

      Thank goodness the Chiefs have a bye next week…..time to regather, regroup and return, to their previous uncompromising approach, hidden somewhere, in their tactics. If not, then this could be a very long season indeed and nightmares of last season, could just as well return, this season.

      • March 18th 2017 @ 10:42am
        In Brief said | March 18th 2017 @ 10:42am | ! Report

        Discipline looked fine to me, apart from the lifting tackle perhaps. The referee was perhaps hard to read for the players, but overall I didn’t see major discipline issues, such two teams competing hard. It was a very fast, hard game, and despite your despair, a fun game to watch.

      • March 18th 2017 @ 2:45pm
        Whakaata said | March 18th 2017 @ 2:45pm | ! Report

        The Chiefs were definitely not anywhere close to the form they displayed in their first three local derbies.
        it may seem arrogant but the Chiefs never looked like losing this game and you knew they had that strike power which would close out the game when it mattered, All Blackesque.

        The Rebels played at their absolute best and the Chiefs played their poorest game yet and by a considerable margin, and upon reflection at the end of the year possibly the poorest game of the year.

      • March 18th 2017 @ 3:14pm
        puff said | March 18th 2017 @ 3:14pm | ! Report

        Old B, I’m not disputing that the Chiefs looked a little lethargic and were not that clinical. But their lackluster performance in the first 60 minutes was partly due to the Rebel’s making their tackles and been a pain in broken play. As a Rebel supporter, cricket scores have no place at this level, hence enjoyed a very different set of dynamics from subsequent weeks. Therefore, regardless of the final score all teams know when they have played with commitment, particularly against a highly skilled premiership team like the Chief’s. It’s a bit like an hysterical Blue’s supporter, come game time, they all become anxious.

        • March 18th 2017 @ 3:21pm
          Old Bugger said | March 18th 2017 @ 3:21pm | ! Report

          Fair enuff mate…..and the Chiefs will definitely realise, that in last night’s game, it was their opponent who played, with commitment.

    • March 18th 2017 @ 11:04am
      BluesMan said | March 18th 2017 @ 11:04am | ! Report

      Amanki Mafi is wasting his talent playing for the Rebels.

      • March 18th 2017 @ 12:15pm
        PiratesRugby said | March 18th 2017 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

        With Sean McMahon, Toby Smith and Lopeti Timani in the pack, all of a sudden the Rebels are a different proposition. Alas…
        By the way, the new loose head prop looked pretty good in his first start. Well played young man!
        The Chiefs really had a very bad night. At about 60 minutes they were panicking. Ultimately their class reasserted itself and they got away to a flattering lead. I don’t expect they’ll play that badly again. Both cards were deserved and the lift probably should’ve been red. I imagine he’s been cited? If so, 2-3 week holiday likely.

        • Columnist

          March 18th 2017 @ 5:33pm
          Geoff Parkes said | March 18th 2017 @ 5:33pm | ! Report

          Don’t think so Pirates. The threshold for red is landing on the head or neck.
          Naivalu landed on his back, in that case the yellow was correct and I doubt it will go any further.

          • March 18th 2017 @ 10:27pm
            PiratesRugby said | March 18th 2017 @ 10:27pm | ! Report

            Okay, thanks. It looked worse at the ground. I haven’t seen the game on tv.

        • March 18th 2017 @ 7:16pm
          Sam said | March 18th 2017 @ 7:16pm | ! Report

          The new prop was Fereti Sa’aga, the 4th VRU player to debut for the Rebels (3Rd if you don’t count Naivalu). I think there are now 7 Vics in SR now, if you count the Rebels 6 and Rob Valetini who signed with the Brumbies. The Rebels have had a bad start this year. The only way from here is up!

          • March 18th 2017 @ 10:22pm
            PiratesRugby said | March 18th 2017 @ 10:22pm | ! Report

            I think Fereti came through Melbourne Grammar. I didn’t know so many VRU boys had brought ken through to SR. It took the Storm 15 years to get a local player to start.

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