Genia injury blow for the Rebels
WITH Will Genia Melbourne can beat anyone but without the Wallabies halfback the Rebels fell apart at AAMI Park yesterday.
When Genia set up the Rebels’ third try against the Argentine Jaguares, his side had a 19-6 lead and 32 minutes to play but on the same play Genia hurt his hamstring and had to be replaced.
Minutes later the Jaguares scored as penalties and a yellow card added to Melbourne’s woes. Without Genia they lacked direction and they watched their lead dwindle down until Bautista Ezcurra’s game-winning try for the visitors with just minutes to play.
The Rebels could have stolen a draw with a penalty on the siren but they huddled and chose to chase the win with a scrum.
But the Jaguares, who boast hundreds of Argentine test caps, were steady and held up the home side’s maul to claim a 25-22 win.
The Rebels still receive a point for a close loss – as opposed to two points for a draw – but in a tight Australian conference the result could cost them dearly.
Even more disappointing was a crowd of just 5538, proving Victorian fans won’t come to Saturday afternoon games, especially once local AFL and rugby seasons begin.
Worse still for the Rebels, Genia’s injury could be catastrophic to their season as they fly out to South Africa for a two-game tour this week in desperate need of wins.
With their bright orange jumpers clashing with the dark skies, the Jaguares put pressure on the home side early, dominating territory and earning an early penalty which Nicholas Sanchez converted for a 3-0 lead.
But that kick seamed to release the shackles on the Rebels and with Genia calling the shots the home side started to assert control on the match.
A try looked in the offing and it was Genia who masterminded the score as he received the ball from Geoff Parling in the lineout, dummied and broke the line to avoid several defenders before being caught, with the Wallabies star having the vision to offload to Billy Meakes who scored on the left. The Jaguares were lucky to avoid a yellow card soon after as a defender make awkward contact with Rebels winger Jack Maddocks while he leapt for a high ball.
Still the Rebels persisted with their running game despite more rain and it paid off with fullback Dane Haylett-Petty celebrating his return to the side as he set up winger Marika Koroibete for a try and a 14-3 lead.
Rebels flanker Richard Hardwick was relentless in his tackling and physicality after earning his first start was excellent but he knocked himself out of the contest in a tackle just minutes into the second half.
Penalties were a problem throughout for the Rebels although the Jaguares couldn’t regularly punish them despite Sanchez kicking his second goal to cut the lead to 14-6.
Genia was again the playmaker on 48 minutes as he broke the line and passed inside towards Meakes, the pass was tipped by a defender but HaylettPetty caught it and touched it down for try.
But Genia appeared to hurt his hamstring on the play and was replaced by Michael Ruru and just after the restart the visitors caught the Rebels napping with a break down their right side which winger Sebastian Cancelliere finished under the posts to cut the lead to 19-13.
Those penalty woes came back to bite the Rebels when prop Tetera Faulkner was given a yellow card and right after winger Ramiro Moyano powered over to score and make it 19-18 with an hour to play.
Five-eighth Jack Debreczeni could have extended the lead with a penalty kick on 62 minutes, he hit the post but redeemed himself soon after with another penalty to make scored 22-18.
After being trapped in their own half for several minutes, the Rebels twice failed to exit and clear the ball to midfield, finally they paid the price for it as Ruru’s kick just metres from the line was smothered by the Jaguares which led to them scoring via Ezcurra and taking a 25-22 lead. THE AGE
The Jaguares scrum goes to work yesterday.