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Rebels stun Bulls

Published 06/06/2015

Melbourne Rebels came from behind to beat the Bulls
Melbourne Rebels came from behind to beat the Bulls

The Melbourne Rebels came from behind to claim their first ever Super Rugby win over the Bulls at AAMI Park on Saturday.

Lopeti Timani got the vital second-half score for the Rebels as they bounced back from being 17-14 down at the interval to win 20-21.

Both sides scored two tries apiece in the first half, with Dean Greyling and Lappies Labuschagn dotting down for the Bulls while Sean McMahon and Jack Debreczeni touched down for Melbourne, but Jacques-Louis Potgieter's penalty gave the Bulls a slim half-time lead.

It looked like the Pretoria outfit would maintain their 100 per cent record over the Rebels after stretching out to 20-14, but Greyling's yellow card gave the hosts an opportunity and Timani took it, before Mike Harris converted to make it three from three off the tee.

Burger Odendaal twice thought he had won the game for the Bulls in the final quarter only to be denied both times, once by the television match official and once by the touch line.

Victor Matfield lined up for what could well be his final game for the Bulls, but coach Frans Ludeke may regret the decision to rest Handre Pollard and Adriaan Strauss.

It all looked to be going swimmingly for the play-off chasing Bulls early on when Matfield made a dart off a line-out, before Greyling picked up the ball and drove over to open the scoring after four minutes and Potgieter added the extras.

It took the Rebels seven minutes to reply, with McMahon notching his first ever Super Rugby try after a strong offload from skipper Scott Higginbotham.

Potgieter nudged the Bulls back in front with a penalty and then converted Labuschagne touch down off the back of a driving maul in the 28th minute to make it 17-7.

Given the recent record between the two sides it seemed Melbourne would fade away, but they gave a stubborn show of resilience as fly-half Debreczeni sniped over off a scrum just before the break, with Harris spot on with the boot to make it a three-point ball game at 17-14.

The South African side flew out at the start of the second half, running through nine phases before Potgieter split the posts again to make it 20-14, but the Rebels gradually clawed their way back into the contest.

The match-turning moment arrived in the 53rd minute, with the Rebels applying pressure in the Bulls' 22, Greyling went from hero to zero as he was sent to the bin for tackling a player without the ball.

Five minutes later the Rebels got their reward as Timani drove over off the back of another strong scrum and patient play from the Rebels pack. With Harris flawless, again, from the boot the Rebels had the lead for the first time and they would not let it go.

Although, the Bulls came close. Twice.

On the hour-mark Odendaal powered his way past several defenders, before the TMO was called in to check the grounding and ultimately ruled out the try.

If the Bulls needed further evidence that it was simply just not their day, the centre again made a push for the line in the corner four minutes later, only to stray out of bounds.

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