A 14-man Melbourne Rebels have dug deep to post a gutsy 10-7 win over the Western Force in a drama-filled Super Rugby AU match in Perth.
The Rebels shot out to a 10-0 lead in the 62nd minute of Friday night’s match when a sizzling run from Marika Koroibete set up a try for scrumhalf Joe Powell.
But the game took a turn in the 69th minute when the Force scored a try through substitute Jack McGregor and Rebels lock Ross Haylett-Petty was red-carded for his action in the lead-up.
Haylett-Petty struck Force substitute Tomas Lezana in the head with his shoulder as he went in to tackle.
There was more drama when the lights at HBF Park went out in the 74th minute – just as the two teams were about to pack down for a scrum near the Force’s try line – halting the game for 10 minutes.
The Rebels were forced to defend grimly for the rest of the match, and they hung tough under intense pressure – and also won a penalty on the Force’s scrum feed in the final minute – to seal their first win of the season.
“I’ve never been involved in a game where the lights cut out, a red card – what a game,” Rebels flyhalf Matt To’omua told Channel 9.
“Three away games to start the year is tough, so for us to get the win is huge.”
The Force were sloppy in the first half, committing a host of errors and losing three key lineouts to hand the Rebels field position time and again in front of 7762 fans.
Force flyhalf Jake McIntyre missed a penalty in the 20th minute and then failed to find touch with a penalty kick four minutes later.
Rebels hooker James Hanson almost scored a try in the 25th minute, only for the ball to squeeze out as he was being tackled over the try line.
But the Rebels were on the board a minute later when they put the Force under the pump for six phases before swinging it wide for winger Lachlan Anderson to cross.
The Force had just 17 per cent territory and 28 per cent possession in the first half.
McIntyre’s kicking woes continued early in the second half when his attempted kick for touch from a penalty sailed over the try line.
Star Force fullback Rob Kearney also failed to find touch with a penalty kick.
The Force were given a reprieve when To’omua hit the post with a tricky penalty kick in the 53rd minute.
But there was no stopping Koroibete’s run, which sliced open the Force’s defence for Powell to touch down in the corner.
The Force lifted a gear after that, and a series of deft passes in the 69th minute found its way to McGregor to score.
Force captain Ian Prior nailed the conversion from the sideline to make it 10-7.