Super 15 - Cipriani kicks Rebels to win

Fri, 25 Feb 11:54:00 2011

Danny Cipriani kicked a contentious penalty in the dying seconds to hand the Melbourne Rebels an emotion-charged 25-24 win over the ACT Brumbies as ecstatic fans celebrated the team's first victory in Super rugby.

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Trailing 24-22 with a minute left, the Brumbies were punished for a bit of innocuous-looking push-and-shove after a collapsed scrum, allowing former England fly-half Cipriani to coolly slot the ball over from nearly 40 metres out.

The kick gave the Rebels pin-up boy a 20-point haul and completed a stunning turnaround for the new team in the southern hemisphere provincial competition who were hammered 43-0 by the New South Wales Waratahs in the season-opener last week.

"All night the scrum's been a bit 50-50. We were pushing them back getting penalties, they were pushing us back and getting penalties," said Cipriani, who slotted six penalties and a conversion.

"And right when it counted our experience came through and everything we've worked for," added the fly-half who came into the match under a cloud after being ejected from a nightclub following his team's first-round loss.

Captain Matt Giteau also put on a kicking masterclass with three penalties, a conversion and a drop goal for the Brumbies, but failed to convert winger Henry Speight's 76th-minute try.

Giteau's tough chance from the right touch-line struck the right post, leaving the Rebels needing only three points to snatch victory.

The Wallaby playmaker lamented the Brumbies' inability to stamp out the Rebels' challenge after the visitors took a 16-9 halftime lead.

"We couldn't get into it. Any quick ball we had, they'd slow it right down. Full credit to them," Giteau said.

"We can't give away stupid things like that, we had the feed, we could have played field possession but we'll learn from it," added Giteau.

The Rebels were written off after their first-round capitulation, but were resolute against the Brumbies, Australia's only former champions in the competition.

Cipriani sparked thunderous cheers after his 16th-minute penalty goal brought up the new franchise's first points in Super rugby, and the Englishman's kicking took the Rebels 9-6 ahead.

Giteau responded in kind, however, notching his 600th Super rugby point with his third penalty to wipe out the deficit, then deftly tapped the ball down to charging fullback Pat McCabe who dashed over in the right corner before halftime.

The hosts clawed back to 16-15 after Cipriani kicked another two penalties and stunned the Brumbies with a try by captain Stirling Mortlock.

The former Wallabies skipper took a brilliant lobbed inside pass from winger Cooper Vuna and barged over the line for the Rebels' first try in Super rugby.

Celebrating fans were stunned into silence four minutes later and jeered the officials when Speight scored a try after receiving a sharp pass from Adam Ashley-Cooper that appeared to stray forward.

The winger's try in the right-hand corner was allowed but Giteau's conversion miss under withering pressure opened the door for 23-year-old Cipriani's heroics in his first match as starting fly-half for the Rebels.

Reuters

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