Rebels 35, Toyota Cheetahs 14



The Cheetahs may already have two tough games behind them – a defeat and a win – but with the Rebels having had a bye in Round Two, the men from Melbourne are an unknown quantity to the visitors.

Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské also admitted that a substantial turnover in player corps, plus a new coach, means they can’t focus too much on the men from Melbourne.

This will be the first opportunity for Tony McGahan and his men to showcase their skills and what they have worked on in pre-season.

“They had a bye last week and they have a new coach,” Drotské told this website in an interview from the team’s base in Melbourne.

“Many players have moved on,” he added – in reference to the departure of Nic Henderson (retired), Ged Robinson (to Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand ), Jarrod Saffy (to Bressane in France), Gareth Delve (to Japan), Nick Phipps (to Waratahs), James O’Connor (to London Irish in England), Richard Kingi (to Stade Français in France), Cooper Vuna (to Japan) and Kurtley Beale (to Waratahs).

Their new recruits are scant – Toby Smith (from the Chiefs), Tom Sexton (from Leinster in Ireland), Colby Fainga’a (from the Brumbies), Tamati Ellison (from the Highlanders) and Tony McGahan (from the Australian national Sevens team).

“Their captain of last year has also moved on,” Drotské told this website, adding: “We have managed to get some video footage of their pre-season game against the Hurricanes and based some of our defence on that.

“However, it is more important that we focus on  our own game we have to ensure our systems are in place and the game plan is executed.

“It is dangerous to focus on the opposition of you don’t have enough video footage of them.”

The Cheetahs, who reached the play-offs for the first time in 2013, will hope to repeat or improve on last year’s impressive form on tour – when they won three in a row in Australasia.

The Rebels have ambitions of their own, least of all to attempt a first-ever win over the Cheetahs. The closest they came was a seven-point loss (26-33) in Melbourne two years ago.

The Cheetahs were surprised by the newly-promoted Lions in their Round One game and the Rebels are planning a similar ambush.

With a new coach, McGahan, and eight new faces in the 23-man squad, the Melbourne outfit will bank on their impressive pre-season form – where they won three from three.

New captain Scott Higginbotham feels his team is in a good space.

“All the boys are champing at the bit to get out there,” he said.

“I wouldn’t say we’ve kept anything up our sleeves, but we’ve had two weeks to prepare for this game so we’ve had a bit of stuff to work on.”

Previous results:
2013: Cheetahs won 34-16, Bloemfontein
2012: Cheetahs won 33-26, Melbourne
2011: Cheetahs won 41-21, Bloemfontein

Prediction: This is probably one of the toughest games to call, as there is no form for the Rebels to go on. Pre-season matches are not always a good indicator, as teams try out tactics and combinations, which might have an influence on the scoreline. The Cheetahs will go into the game as slight favourites and we feel they might edge this one, by about five points.


Melbourne Rebels: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Lachlan Mitchell, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Scott Higginbotham (captain), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Steve Fualau, 17 Max Lahiff, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Colby Fainga’a, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Angus Roberts, 23 Tom Kingston.

Cheetahs: 15 Willem le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Johannes Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Coenraad Oosthuizen, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Nicolaas van Dyk, 19 Rynhardt Landman, 20 Jean Cook, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Hennie Daniller.

Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Matt O’Brien (Australia), Michael Hogan (Australia)
TMO: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)

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Better known as Bunny, Took over after Pissant went over to the "Dark Side"


  1. when naka said against the lions was the worst game in 3 years, did he dare his players to do worse?

    One good season and the Cheetahs are strolling about like dik-trille….

  2. more worryingly (probably for all SA sides) is how off the pace we looked as far as conditioning and sharpness is concerned.

    The rebels were more creative and most importantly their passes went to hand. Everything looked planned.

    I am slightly worried but will wait till Reds game to make the call. Cheetahs had long flight and lost a day and looked flat from the get go, so maybe by next week they will look better?

    long shot…

  3. Yip – I fear that the diktrille comment may also be applicable to the Proteas this weekend. Steyn and Morkel never performs adequately when there is so much hype around their abilities.
    At least the Stormers have no reason to display diktril attitude tonight!

  4. Just wondering how fair it is to let a team fly halfway around the world and then letting them play on a Friday?

    Those commentators from the OZmob are a scream – at one
    stage they were even fighting among themselves whether
    it was a late tackle or not.
    As for the crooked throw-ins at the lineouts . . .
    And would you believe it the Rebels 9 was blown up
    for a skew put-in at a scrum – ONCE.

  5. Well watching an Aussie punch a Free Stater who was playing illegally and ggetting a yellow and then watching the squealing from Kearns was hilarious…

    If it were Dewald Potgieter even Keohane and the Cape cabal would have demanded he be banned for life.

  6. wonder if our players dont fall into bad habits during the Curie Cup. For example the fringes around the scrums for the Cheetahs were never threatened during the Lions/Bulls game and they did nothing different today – yet Rebels just had quick leg-driving runners around the scrum and breakdown all day and our guys were simply too slow in alignment to stop it.

    Then again, as commentators remarked – we lost 20 turnovers and dropped the ball 12 times, which is akin to ‘giving away the ball 32 times’.

    Dont think many teams can win doing that.

  7. Rebels beat the Tahs, Canes and Reds pre-season… they were never going lose against the Cheetahs…

    Rugby is on the up in Victoria… Junior subscription is up 170% since the Rebels started, Vic schools are now in the A league, Vic clubs (aka Rebels feeder) are now playing in the big league and beating the big boys…