The Rebels recorded their biggest win in Super Rugby when they scored a comprehensive 35-14 win over an out-of-sorts Cheetahs team in Melbourne on Friday.

The final margin is not just a true reflection of the game, the Rebels full value for the win.

The Cheetahs also contributing to their own downfall. They simply lacked the desire shown by the home team in bucketloads.

Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss put it in a nutshell when he said: “We didn’t pitch up.”

The Cheetahs were caught napping all too often throughout the match, as the Rebels sped up the game – quick throw-ins, slick handling and all-sorts at the breakdown.

It was a quick cross-field kick from a penalty by captain Scott Higginbotham early in the first half that really put their game-pan into perspective. They were not interested in engaging the Cheetahs at forward battle and wanted to keep the play as unstructured as possible.

Showing far greater enthusiasm, the Rebels were able to find gaps all over the field, even though their finishing let them down at times.

In return the visitors appeared well off their game – too many errors and having difficulty to adapt to some of the eccentric calls by the match officials. Captain Adriaan Strauss was remonstrating with the referee and his assistants on numerous occasions.

The Rebels managed to counter the Cheetahs’ weight advantage at scrum time with some sneaky tactics, getting penalised at times, but mostly getting the rub of the green with the calls.

What the Cheetahs could not argue with was that they fell off tackles all too easily and most the tries were the result of their sloppy defence. Add to that some poor line-out play, sloppy handling (20 turnovers) and shocking out of hand kicking and you have the real reason why they struggled to get into the game.

The early stages of the game was marked by plenty of kicking, some of it very ordinary efforts, and a territorial game.

However, the Rebels quickly showed their counter-attacking ability – a line-out error by the Cheetahs handing the ball to the Rebels. They worked it through the phases long enough to suck in a few defenders and then went side to the right where Lachlan Mitchell sneaked over in the corner.

The conversion attempt by Jason Woodward was not on target and he also missed a penalty shot just on the 10-minute mark.

Cheetahs flyhalf Johan Goosen had a shocker of his own – a hack at the ball and a penalty attempt he would like to forget.

At the end of the first quarter captain Scott Higginbotham opted for a quick cross-field kick from a penalty and with the Cheetahs sleep-walking Jason Woodward was virtually unopposed in the ingoal area.

The kicking woes continued – Woodward missed the conversion attempt and Bryce Hegarty a penalty shot – leaving the home team with a 10-0 advantage at the half-hour mark.

Four minutes from the break the Rebels went offside at a line-out and Goosen, from 40 metres out right in front, again hooked it past the left upright.

Right on the half-time hooter the Cheetahs were again caught sleep-walking – scrumhalf Luke Burgess sneaking between a few defenders for the third try. Hegarty added the conversion to make it 17-0 at the break.

The Cheetahs got the second half off to the perfect start – a penalty that became a line-out and a powerful maul saw Jean Cook score his team’s try within a minute after coming onto the field as a replacement for Johannes Prinsloo. Goosen finally slotted a kick, the conversion making it 7-17.

In the 51st minute the Rebels were reduced to 14 men after Scott Fuglistaller was caught by the TMO punching Cook at a scrum.

However, again using their high-paced counter-attacking game the Rebels got their bonus-point try in the 59th minute – a poor kick by Goosen resulting in Hegarty going over for the bonus-point try – the conversion making it 24-7.

Right on the 70-minute mark the Cheetahs – after yet another foul play penalty – they mauled it up and replacement hooker Ryno Barnes had an arm-chair ride into the in-goal are. Goosen’s conversion made it a 10-point game – 14-24.

However, with five minutes left on the clock Angus Roberts slotted a drop-goal and he added a penalty a minute from time.

But the cherry on top was a try by captain Scott Higginbotham after the full-time hooter – making it 35-14 for their biggest Super Rugby win.

Man of the match: Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss did his best to get his team into the game, but very few of his teammates showed the same enthusiasm. Sean McMahon had a great debut and did plenty of hard graft in the tight exchanges. Fullback Jason Woodward had his moments on attack. Rebels scrumhalf Luke Burgess caused the Cheetahs’ defensive all sorts of problems around the edges and provide a snappy services for those outside backs when they needed quick ball. Our award goes to Rebels captain Scott Higginbotham, who got himself involved in everything – kicks, turnovers, holding up mauls and scoring the final try well after the full-time hooter.

The scorers:

For the Rebels:
Mitchell, Woodward, Burgess, Hegarty, Higginbotham
Cons: Hegarty 2
Pen: Roberts
DG: Roberts

For the Cheetahs:
Cook, Barnes
Cons: Goosen 2

Yellow card: Scott Fuglistaller (Rebels, 51 – foul play, punching)


  1. We’ll see how the next games go.
    Cheetahs seemed absolutely drugged. It was a jailbreak each time the rebels went wide.
    If this trend continues I am going tosay bad things about Naka Drotske & demand Adrian Strauss lose his captaincy.
    Perhaps the current Cheetah Glory was prescient in retiring his “Year of the Cheetah” ala YOC moniker last year.

  2. I’m still very dismayed by this result.
    Cheetahs are lucky they’re not a North Korean side or it would be curtains.
    Oh well. Next game & hopefully redemption awaits “The Pride of South African Rugby”…..Your FunNGun Cheetahs.

  3. @Americano:

    I often get very angry at the Cheetahs but this time I feel they were just flat from the get go and were a split second behind every aspect of the game. They will get there.

    But saying that, I do feel Goosen needs to be dropped for Watts and for Sarel to start. For Cheetah gameplan to work we need players who can make play, and right now only Willie is doing that. With Sarel there you have two players keeping the defence honest.

    In defence we obviously miss Ebersohn but Venter has not started many games in the last 2 years so he also needs a game or two to realise that this is now his call to make.

  4. @Cheetah Glory:

    Sarel to start – definitely

    And Groom for the Breezes, who are in for a
    Tour to Hell. And when they come back they
    face the Waratahs . . .

  5. Thank you Cheetah Glory for your words of light in this very dark time not only for Cheetah supporters but really all SA rugby football fans.
    You don’t have to be Aldo to know that in 2014 as the Cheetahs go….so will the Boks later in the year.

    You’re right Cheetahs were like drinking a beer that had been opened a day before.
    Drastic measures may be needed if these flu-like symptoms persist.
    Would this include Messerschmitt-Willie LeRoux & The Goose swapping starting positions?
    Only Naka Drotske knows.
    I’m not totally comfortable with him making the right call, he can hardly dress himself ( what’s with the multiple unbuttoned shirts like he’s headed to a disco post-match).

    Weight of the world on Naka now. I’ll light a candle for him & hope for the best.

  6. Cheetahs were not ‘lethargic’… they were obliterated by the come of age Rebels…

    They got beaten by the Lions whilst the Rebels smashed the Tahs, Reds and Canes pre-season…

  7. @bryce_in_oz:

    No denying the Rebels looked awesome. Did everything at pace much like the Reds did 3 years ago.

    But also no denying the Cheetahs will take a few games to get used to life without Ebersohn and Brussouw. Those two manned the defensive organisation and right now I do not know who is supposed to lead.

    Cheetahs also lacked energy from the get go, which is why I knew they would not win that game no matter how good the Rebels played.

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