Rebels fight back to pip the High­landers

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

BRYCE HE­GARTY’S two late tries over­came the Melbourne Rebels 31-7 half-time deficit to edge the High­landers 38-37 in Su­per Rugby yes­ter­day.

Tom English and Cooper Vuna also scored a brace in the last-gasp win for 12 000 roar­ing fans as a host of de­part­ing play­ers signed off in style.

Cap­tain Gareth Delve, the heart and soul of the strug­gling Melbourne club, was given the hon­our of kick­ing the last con­ver­sion in his fi­nal game for the Rebels.

The Welsh No 8, set to play club rugby in Ja­pan, missed to the left of the posts but it did lit­tle to sub­due cel­e­bra­tions among the play­ers. Many held back tears.

Along with Delve, Wal­la­bies backs James O’Con­nor, Vuna and Nick Phipps were among a raft of play­ers tak­ing their last bows for the Rebels, who were also bid­ding farewell to sacked coach Damien Hill.

The gutsy win in the fi­nal round of the south­ern hemi­sphere com­pe­ti­tion’s reg­u­lar sea­son capped a dif­fi­cult year for the Rebels, who were elim­i­nated from play­offs con­tention early and blighted by off-field prob­lems over Kurt­ley Beale.

Wal­la­bies back Beale, who punched Delve and Vuna in an al­co­hol-fu­elled in­ci­dent on a team bus in South Africa early in the sea­son, was ex­cused from play­ing to con­tinue his re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion in Syd­ney.

The Rebels were more than com­pen­sated by an out­stand­ing half hour’s play by Aus­tralia back O’Con­nor.

O’Con­nor was sen­sa­tion­ally dumped by the provin­cial team early in the week af­ter a dis­ap­point­ing se­ries against the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions.

The de­ci­sion may have felt a pang of re­gret as the tal­ented 23 year old carved up the High­landers de­fence and set up three tries af­ter com­ing off the bench shortly af­ter the break. – Reuters

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