Ge­nia in­jury blow for the Rebels

Sunday News - - RUGBY - ROY WARD

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.

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