Super Rugby Pacific: Five takeaways from Melbourne Rebels v Waratahs including Carter Gordon shining at 10

Carter Gordon Rebels SRP 2022 - PA.jpg Credit: Alamy
Carter Gordon Rebels SRP 2022 - PA.jpg Credit: Alamy

Following the Rebels’ 34-27 triumph over the Waratahs in Melbourne on Friday, Planet Rugby picks out five takeaways from the action.

Fly-half duel proves decisive

Like most rugby matches, the battle between the two number 10s had a big impact on this fixtures result and while Tane Edmed had some good moments for the Waratahs, Carter Gordon overshadowed him and guided his team to a deserved triumph.

Edmed was solid off the kicking tee but his game management and playmaking skills were erratic while Gordon did well in the latter two departments. The Rebels pivot caught the eye with his impressive skill-set as he did well to unleash his outside backs during the opening period and the visitors were rewarded with two early tries from Reece Hodge and Lachie Anderson.

Gordon continued to ask questions of the Waratahs defence as the match progressed and he was rewarded for his attacking ability with a well-taken try in the game’s latter stages while he also did well on defence to round off a fine all-round display.

Michael Hooper still a class act

The 31-year-old might be in the twilight of his career but he showed against the Rebels that he still has plenty left in the tank as he delivered an outstanding all-round performance in Melbourne.

Although the visitors finished on the losing side, it was not due to a lack of effort from their veteran back-row, who was in the thick of the action throughout.

Hooper was his usual busy self at the breakdowns, where he did well to slow down the Rebels’ ball and gave his all during the full 80 minutes. He was also prominent as a ball carrier and on defence and finished the match with a handy 28 metres gained on attack and 11 tackes made on defence.

Rebels do well to close out the game

After losing their first two matches of Super Rugby Pacific, Rebels head coach Kevin Foote and his players were under pressure to secure their first victory of the campaign.

The homeside came out firing and held a deserved 17-6 lead at half-time but went off the boil during the early stages of the second half – when they allowed the Waratahs to take control of proceedings – but came back strongly in the final quarter and secured the result.

They deserved their victory as they held the edge for long periods but what was particularly pleasing is that they managed to close out the game as they failed to do that in their previous matches against Western Force and the Hurricanes.

Waratahs still far from the finished article

The Sydneysiders have made tremendous strides under the guidance of head coach Darren Coleman but they still have plenty of work to do before they will be challenging for honours in this competition.

Despite taking an early lead – courtesy of an Edmed penalty – they were soon under the cosh and were trailing 17-6 at half-time after the Rebels scored three unanswered tries.

The visitors did well to launch a fightback after the interval but failed to kick on and allowed their opponents to regain the initiative during the game’s closing stages. Coleman has worked wonders to improve the Waratahs since taking charge of the team last year and they did well to reach the play-offs in 2022 but if they want to repeat that feat they will have to beat a team like the Rebels, who were ripe for the taking as they were winless before this match.

Rebels bench make a big impact

Although the Waratahs’ replacements also made their presence felt when they came onto the field in the second half, the Rebels bench had the last laugh as their efforts helped their team to seal their first win of the season.

The Waratahs came alive shortly after half-time when the likes of forward replacements Taleni Seu, Harry Johnson-Holmes and Charlie Gamble were introduced but it did not take long for the Rebels to counter that as they brought on Pone Fa’amausili, who helped steady their scrum, Tuaina Taii Tualima and Vaiolini Ekuasi with the latter making his presence felt as a ball carrier.

Ekuasi was particularly effective on attack during the latter stages of the game – when the Waratahs seemend to tire – and in the end he finished with 39 metres gained from six carries which included one clean break and two defenders beaten during a 23-minute spell on the field.

READ MORE: WATCH: Lachie Anderson’s ACROBATIC finish in Rebels win over Waratahs

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