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Brumbies punish Rebels in Super Rugby penalty-fest

Rebels players look dejected during the round 14 Super Rugby Pacific match between ACT Brumbies and Melbourne Rebels at GIO Stadium, on May 24, 2024, in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

The ACT Brumbies have defeated the Melbourne Rebels 53-17 despite having three men yellow-carded in a penalty-disrupted drubbing at GIO Stadium.


Melbourne were unable to capitalise on their numerical advantage and must now wait for results elsewhere before they can celebrate securing their maiden Super Rugby Pacific finals berth.

The financially-stricken club’s potentially final-ever season slipped further away from them with Friday night’s loss their fifth straight.

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Coach Kevin Foote and his charges will be desperate to turn their performances around and treat their long-suffering fans to a fairytale finals run before the club faces possible oblivion at season’s end.

“It’s not like we’re miles off,” Foote said.

“It’s just … the consistency of performance for 80 minutes. This is finals rugby now with the big boys, so this is crucial for us.”

Match Summary

Penalty Goals
Drop Goals
Line Breaks
Turnovers Lost
Turnovers Won

The Brumbies’ defence stood firm when it mattered and their backs were more incisive when they had a chance to spread the ball.

Stephen Larkham’s men scored three tries in a seven-minute blitz while the visitors had a player in the bin.


Referee Angus Gardner eventually lost his patience with the Rebels for racking up ruck violations following Jahrome Brown’s opening try and sat down winger Darby Lancaster.

The Brumbies made the most of their extra man, scoring through Tom Wright, Nick Frost and hooker Billy Pollard before halftime.

Fullback Wright was a stand-out, along with returning speedster Corey Toole, whenever there was a long enough break between penalties for the game to run.

Wright was on the spot again after the break, latching onto a Rhys Van Nek reverse ball and ran through untouched for his second of the night.


But soon after, Brumbies flanker Brown and Tamati Tua were sin-binned in quick succession.

The pressure eventually told, with the Rebels scoring their first of the night through centre Filipo Daugunu after a series of scrum penalties.

Referee Gardner, who blew a total of 16 penalties against the home side, then yellow-carded Len Ikitau for offside as he unsuccessfully attempted to stop Angelo Smith from burrowing over for the Rebels’ second try.

Larkham was full of praise for Gardner, who he felt gave his players plenty of warning.

“It’s obviously quite a physical game,” he said.

“The guys were pretty keen to get off the line.

“I thought he handled it pretty well.”

Despite having 14 men on the field, the Brumbies extended their advantage late on through Van Nek before Luke Reimer scored the home side’s seventh and final try of the night.

After showing signs of improvement in the first half, the Brumbies’ problem scrum again faded in the second.

“We probably got dominated in the second half and probably needed to adjust better,” captain Allan Alaalatoa said.

“But in terms of a reaction from last week (against the Crusaders), I thought it was much better.”

Brumbies prop James Slipper was taken off in the first half with a sore calf, although the injury is not expected to be serious.

But Larkham will be tempted to rest the big man for the Brumbies’ last regular-season game against the Western Force, after the league-leading Hurricanes’ victory over the Chiefs earlier on Friday all but ended their top-two hopes.

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Turlough 1 hours ago
'Let them keep talking' - Mike Catt claps back over Bok remarks

“You want that – not hatred – but whatever it is that stirs it all up. It’s good.” Agree with this. If you can put a common motivating idea in all your players heads during a game it can produce a real Team perfromance. Erasmus is pretty expert at this. It is quite clear that the comments by Etzebeth, Allende and others were not coincidence and were actioned to create animoisty before the series in order to galvanise the South African mind set. While I understand it, I don’t like it. They result in unnessary vitriol between supporters and for what? I don’t think any of the SA players seriously believe any of these claims and with Ireland ignoring them Erasmus won’t get the escalation he seeks. The vitriol shown by some SA and indeed NZ supporters is extremely weird for NH supporters (OK, maybe England have felt it) but it just feels very odd over a sport. Ireland were more or less sh1t for the first 100 years of their rugby, they have improved significantly in the last 25 to be in a position around now (it may not last) to go into a match with the big guns with a real shot of winning. The reaction to this from some SH supporters has been bizarre with conspiracy theories of ‘Arrogance’ fueling abuse from supporters and even NZ players to Irish crowds during the world cup. I love International rugby and the comraderie between supporters. I genuinely dread and dislike the atmosphere around games with the southern giants. They take this very personally. NH teams: play them, try and beat them, enjoy the craic with their players and supporters and wish them well. SH teams wish them well and they call you arrogant in the press months later. Its just a matter of try and beat them and then good riddance til the next time.

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