BY AUBREY HAMLETT
13 February 2012
This article originally appeared in The Roar
In the second of three trial matches, the RaboDirect Melbourne Rebels and the Auckland Blues met last night at AAMI Park.
After last week’s disappointing loss against the Waikato Chiefs 36-0 in Geelong, the Rebels were looking to trial different team structures and combinations against the Blues.
Something happened within the first 10 minutes of the trial match that fans did not expect. James O’Connor scored his first penalty within the first 90 seconds and the Rebels scored two tries, both assisted by flyhalf Danny Cipriani.
Cooper Vuna scored the first try first from Cipriani who handed it off to Kurtley Beale, who cut through his opposition like butter and allowing Vuna to score.
The second try in as many minutes again came from Cipriani who kicked to the boundary line, Mark Gerrard was in the right position to catch the ball and scored the try.
Head coach Damien Hill’s strategy for selection certainly worked well in the first half. The Rebels were on fire; tackling and holding up good defence keeping the Blues contained until half time 18-7.
In the first half of the game Cipriani and O’Connor worked well together, making tackles and passing the ball on quickly. Beale is an absolute asset to this team and can read the play and know where to break through his oppositions defence.
Hill changed most of the starting 15 in the second half. O’Connor and Beale were sidelined but were needed in the second half to secure the win. James Hilgendorf and Adam Freier played in the second half after a long break from playing.
The Blues eventually found their stride and over took the Rebels at the 62nd minute and finished the game leading 31-21.
After the game, Hill praised his players to the media. He said Gerrard, O’Connor and Cipriani all had a solid game. Hill also said the Rebels forwards played exceptionally well.
Rebels fullback Julian Huxley told the Rebels Media Unit that he and his fellow teammates played with attitude and worked a lot on their systems and their play.
Last night’s display of teamwork and strong defence showed fans that there is certainly hope for the Rebels in the 2012 Super Rugby Season.
The Melbourne Rebels play the Crusaders next Saturday February 18 at AAMI Park 7.40pm AEST