Melbourne Rebels 13 - 23 Reds

Match info: Super Rugby at AAMI Park, Melbourne

Date: 08/03/2013 KO: 08:40

Home team/scorers Scores Away team/scorers

Rebels

13
vs
23

Reds

FT (ht: 13-10)

  • Last Updated: March 8 2013, 12:39 GMT

Quade Cooper outshone good friend James O'Connor as the Reds made it three wins on the trot with victory over the Rebels at AAMI Park.

James Slipper of the Reds is tackled
James Slipper of the Reds is tackled

Cooper missed just one attempt on goal, while the usually reliable O'Connor didn't have his kicking boots on as the Reds continued their dominance over the Rebels with a hard-fought victory.

The Reds were the better team for the majority of the contest, scoring tries from Ben Tapuai and Nick Frisby, while the Rebels only crossed once through the impressive Lachlan Mitchell and were unable to add any points after leading by three (13-10) at half-time.

But it was efficiency in goal kicking that proved the difference as O'Connor struggled with the boot and was unable to build on an excellent match by Scott Higginbotham against his former team.

The victory sees the Reds move closer to the Brumbies at the top of the Australian conference, while the Rebels remain ahead of only the Western Force with just one win from their opening four matches.

The Reds looked good in possession early on, with the experienced Cooper and youngster Frisby running the show as the Rebels were unable to get any meaningful ball.

It was 3-3 after a quarter of an hour, but the signs were ominous as the visitors probed the Rebels' defence looking for the opening try of the night.

And it came moments later as Tapuai sidestepped around opposite number Mitchell to cross over for the simplest of five-pointers.

Saia Fainga'a dropped the ball over the line minutes later when certain to score as the Reds continued to dominate, but a couple of sloppy errors in the middle of the park gifted the Rebels a couple of chances in their attacking 22.

The bulky figure of Higginbotham made a dashing run, only to be thwarted by Anthony Fainga'a close to the line, with O'Connor adding a penalty goal shortly after to reduce the deficit to four (10-6) with 10 minutes remaining in the opening half.

O'Connor failed to make further inroads into the Reds' lead as he left his long penalty attempt short on the ensuing possession, but it mattered little as the star back helped put the Rebels into the lead at the break by setting up a try after the half-time hooter.

Higginbotham forced the turnover with a superb tackle in defence and when O'Connor put Mitchell into space with a lovely short ball on the next play, the Rebels inside centre dashed over to touch down.

O'Connor made no mistake with the simplest of conversions as the Rebels headed into the half-time break with a three-point advantage.

The Reds reclaimed the lead with a magnificent team try moments after the restart, as Digby Ioane drew two defenders, used Anthony Fainga'a, who then offloaded to Frisby to dash away and touchdown in the corner.

Cooper split the middle with his sideline conversion, while O'Connor failed with a penalty attempt at the other end as the Reds headed into the final half-hour with a slim four-point (17-13) advantage.

Ioane was looking menacing in attack, often combining well with Cooper on the left as the Reds added another three points on the hour mark to lead by seven with 20 minutes remaining.

The Rebels attempted to fight back, but first Anthony Fainga'a produced a vital turnover with the hosts in an excellent attacking position and then moments later the TMO overturned an on-field call that gave the Reds possession yet again.

An errant penalty attempt and some staunch defence from the Rebels kept the result in the balance right up into the closing stages, but the Reds sealed the match in the final minute when Cooper slotted a simple three points from right in front of the sticks.


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