Reds and Rebels draw after historic extra-time thriller

SYDNEY (AFP) – The Melbourne Rebels and Queensland Reds played out a tense 18-18 draw yesterday after the first-ever golden point extra-time in Australian Super Rugby failed to separate the sides.

A last-gasp try from the Reds’ Alex Mafi saw the teams tied at full-time, sending it into an extra five minutes each way under new rules designed to liven up the game, with the first to score winning.

Bryce Hegarty had a glorious chance to be the Reds’ hero with a 50-metre penalty, but his kick narrowly drifted past the post to leave both teams to share the spoils.

“It’s a weird result not to get one in the end after 90 minutes of slogging each other,” said Reds skipper Liam Wright.

“But the Rebels were really good tonight, they took it to us the whole game and in the end we couldn’t be separated.”

It was a match the Rebels threw away. They went to the break 6-0 in front and had a 10 point lead with five minutes left before capitulating.

“We obviously let that one slip,” admitted Rebels captain Dane Haylett-Petty.

“I think we had control early and we didn’t take enough of our opportunities. It was a real tussle there at the end.”

It leaves them with a defeat and a draw from their two Super Rugby AU games so far after losing to the Brumbies last week, while the Reds remain unbeaten following their opening win against the NSW Waratahs. Western Force make a return to Super Rugby after three years today against the ‘Tahs, with the Brumbies enjoying a bye.

Yesterday’s match was supposed to be a home fixture for the Rebels, but they have been forced out of Melbourne indefinitely after a surge in coronavirus cases and it was played at Sydney’s Brookvale Oval – home to rugby league team Manly.

There was a sparse crowd to watch an error-strewn first half after showers made for greasy conditions, with the Rebels going to the turn up by six courtesy of two Matt To’omua penalties.

But it sparked life in the second stanza.

Despite the Rebels dominating the first half, the Reds came out firing, claiming a try three minutes after the restart with Filipo Daugunu diving for the corner.

O’Connor missed the conversion but made amends soon after with a long-distance penalty to give them an 8-6 lead.

The Rebels hit back through Reece Hodge, who tore down the line to score after a perfectly-timed pass from fellow Wallaby Haylett-Petty.

A reckless high tackle by Hunter Paisami saw the Reds reduced to 14 men soon after and the Rebels pounced with Billy Meakes intercepting an O’Connor pass and sprinting to the line for their second five-pointer of the night.