Rebels pip Highlanders

Rebels pip Highlanders
Published: 16 July 2013
Melbourne - The Highlanders have blown a 24-point halftime lead to lose to the Rebels in Melbourne on Friday.

According to the website, it was fairytale stuff for the Rebels who were awful in the first half, falling off 19 tackles as the Highlanders ran in four tries, with Tony Woodcock's first for the Highlanders also securing a bonus point before the break.

The Rebels, who were saying goodbye to six players and their coach Damien Hill, struck back with five second half tries to demolish the Highlanders.

At halftime Hosea Gear looked to have signed off after two seasons with the Highlanders in outstanding fashion as he ran in his 39th try, the second highest of any active player in Super Rugby behind Bryan Habana, and had a hand in another during a one-way first 40 minutes which saw Colin Slade convert all four of the Highlanders tries for a 31-7 lead at the break.

If there's a player the Highlanders are really going to miss next season, it will be the Toulouse-bound Gear, who has scored eight tries this season for the Highlanders, including four in the past four games.

TJ Ioane, the find of the season for the Highlanders, was another to turn it on in Melbourne from No 8 after a reshuffle of the looseforwards following the late withdrawal of Elliot Dixon.

Typically it was Ben Smith who got the Highlanders on the board early, scoring with some intelligent play after a strong carry by Josh Bekhuis.

While the Rebels struck back almost immediately when Jason Woodward set up Tom English, the first half was almost entirely about the visitors, who were able to throw the ball around with abandon in the face of some ineffectual tackling.

The Rebels were a much improved outfit after the break, the departing Cooper Vuna grabbing two tries, as the troublesome James O'Connor made his way into the game off the bench.

English's second try and a Bryce Hegarty score with five minutes left had the Rebels trailing by one point before Hayden Parker stopped the home team's momentum with a crucial penalty goal.

But just as the Highlanders looked to try and survive in the final minutes, Hegarty grabbed his second try to steal a victory from nowhere.



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