June 15, 2019

Match Report | Gallagher Chiefs make a statement with a massive win over the Rebels

After a slow start to the season, the Gallagher Chiefs have completed their remarkable turnaround to book themselves a spot in the Super Rugby playoffs by crushing the Rebels 59-8 at AAMI Park in Melbourne.

The equation was clear for the visitors in their final match of the regular season - a bonus point win would lift them into the playoff spots (barring a highly unlikely two bonus points from the Stormers), and they sealed the five points in emphatic style with a nine tries to one demolition job across the Tasman.

An aggressive but controlled start from the Chiefs saw them gain the ascendency early on, before the home side had a couple of promising moments of their own, but the score remained 0-0 at the 10-minute mark.

Out of nowhere, the Chiefs then produced one of their best tries of the season to open the scoring. First five Jack Debreczeni started a counter attack from deep inside his own territory from a Quade Cooper chip kick, before some slick passing back inside kept the play alive with captain Sam Cane running a good support line to receive the final pass and score under the posts.

A determined response from the Rebels saw them edge downfield and win a penalty, which wing Reece Hodge turned into three points to reduce the Chiefs lead to four after the first quarter of the match.

Another poor kick option from the Rebels led to more Chiefs points, with a loose ball picked up by wing Shaun Stevenson who swerved a defender and raced away to score a simple try.

He should have had his second just two minutes later, when the Chiefs charged onto attack once more, but fullback Solomon Alaimalo was unable to release his pass to an unmarked Stevenson.

A scrappy period of play followed, but it was that man Stevenson who was again in the thick of the action to have the final say of the half, again taking advantage of a loose ball on the ground before weaving his way towards the line and offloading for loose forward Lachlan Boshier to score.

Holding onto the all-important bonus point with their three try advantage as they entered the second spell, the Chiefs came out of the halftime break with great intensity. From a scrum 30 metres out, some hard running and slick ball handling saw the ball end up in the hands of Sean Wainui out on the left wing, and he darted back inside through a couple of defenders to score.

Moments later came the Chiefs fifth try, with another strong kick return from the Chiefs creating gaps in the Rebels defence, and centre Anton Lienert-Brown received an inside pass near halfway in plenty of space, sprinting clear to score under the posts.

With momentum completely in their favour, a well-placed chip kick from Solomon Alaimalo was collected out wide and Stevenson was able to break away for his second try.

The two quick tries were converted by Debreczeni and suddenly the Chiefs lead had blown out to 37 points with still half an hour to play.

Halfback Brad Weber was the next to get in on the action as he made a fine break off the back of scrum on halfway, fending off Cooper and showing great acceleration to burst clear, before firing a pass back inside to give Debreczeni an easy try.

The Chiefs took the opportunity to roll the substitutions for the final quarter which halted their momentum and the Rebels took advantage - working their way towards the line with lock Matt Philip breaking free to score their first and only try of the night.

Yet another Rebels mistake led to the Chiefs eighth try, with a dropped ball from their backline pounced on by Marty McKenzie, and the replacement first five calmly kicked ahead and gathered in the bobbling ball over the line to take the Chiefs past 50 points.

With the clock running down, there was time for Stevenson to complete his hat-trick, with a well weighted chip over the top from Lachlan Boshier finding plenty of space for Stevenson to pick up and dot down just inside the right-hand touchline.

Gallagher Chiefs 59 (Shaun Stevenson 3, Sam Cane, Lachlan Boshier, Sean Wainui, Anton Lienert-Brown, Jack Debreczeni, Marty McKenzie tries; Jack Debreczeni 6 cons, Marty McKenzie con) Melbourne Rebels 8 (Matt Philip try; Reece Hodge pen) HT: 21-3.

The Chiefs will now await the rest of the final round results to see what next weekend's playoff fixture will be.

Match Report | Gallagher Chiefs make a statement with a massive win over the Rebels