The Melbourne Rebels mastered wet and greasy conditions to batter the table-topping Brumbies 30-12 in Sydney on Friday, snapping the Canberra team's unbeaten streak in Super Rugby AU to throw the competition wide open.
AS IT HAPPENED | Rebels v Brumbies
Dave Wessels' fired-up side scored four tries in a dominant first-half, two from Wallaby back Reece Hodge, rampaging to the turn 27-7 ahead and were never threatened in the second stanza.
The upset avenged their opening-day loss to the Brumbies as they build momentum with three wins and a draw, moving within four points of the Canberra side, who remain top of the ladder.
The Reds can narrow the gap on the Brumbies further if they beat the Waratahs on Saturday in Round 6 of the competition's 10.
"I thought tonight the conditions really helped us in the sense that we didn't overthink it," said Rebels captain Matt Toomua, who kicked 10 points.
"We thought about territory, we thought about physicality... I was really happy, it was a clinical performance."
The Brumbies came into the game on the back of seven straight wins in Super Rugby, four of them in the Australian competition, which has replaced the five-nation southern hemisphere tournament this year.
But on a wet and cold night in Sydney, the Rebels' base after being forced out of Melbourne by coronavirus, they failed to click into gear.
"It was a tough game, I think we needed to kick better. They stayed on top of us well, they kept putting balls in the corner and keeping us in our end," said Brumbies skipper Allan Alaalatoa. "We need to really have a look at ourselves."
With rain pouring down, the Rebels showed all the early energy, capitalising from a Tom Banks fumble to win a lineout after two minutes with Hodge darting over for the opening try from the resulting maul.
Conditions were slippery but the Rebels adjusted well, stretching their lead to 12-0 when a Brumbies grubber kick was intercepted and booted downfield by Marika Koroibete who raced after it and offloaded to Brad Wilkin.
The Brumbies hit back through Joe Powell from a maul, before Hodge bagged his second of the night, beating Banks to the ball after Toomua stabbed it along the ground.
The Rebels were on fire and a Toomua penalty kick was followed by big hooker Jordan Uelese capping a dominant first-half with their fourth try, collecting the ball after a charge by fellow forward Isi Naisarani.
Another Toomua penalty after the restart put them 23 points in front and despite the Brumbies working hard to regain some semblance of control they were shut out in a messy second-half.
A last minute try to the Brumbies' Will Miller gave the scoreboard some respectability, but it too little too late.
Tries: Reece Hodge (2), Brad Wilkin, Jordan Uelese
Conversions: Matt Toomua (2)
Penalties: Toomua (2)
Tries: Joe Powell, Will Miller
Conversion: Bayley Kuenzle
15 Reece Hodge (co-captain), 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Campbell Magnay, 12 Matt Toomua (co-captain), 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Andrew Deegan, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Brad Wilkin, 6 Josh Kemeny, 5 Trevor Hosea, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Cameron Orr.
Substitutes: 16 Efitusi Ma’afu, 17 Cabous Eloff, 18 Pone Fa'amaluli, 19 Michael Stolberg, 20 Richard Harwick, 21 Rob Leota, 22 James Tuttle, 23 Billy Meakes
15 Tom Banks, 14 Solomone Kata, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Andy Muirhead, 10 Bayley Kuenzle, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Nick Frost, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio
Substitutes: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 Harry lloyd, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Will Miller, 20 Ben Hyne, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Mack Hansen, 23 Len Ikitau