THE Melbourne Rebels are calling for a swift resolution to Super Rugby’s season-long saga after blowing the Australian conference open with a shock win over the Brumbies.
Apart from sending a powerful message to the ARU, who are weighing up whether to cut the Rebels or Western Force from next year’s competition, Saturday night’s stirring 19-17 victory in Melbourne has also breathed life into the 2017 season.
With a record 10 straight derby wins to their credit, the Brumbies seemed to cruising to Australian conference honours for the second year in a row.
Suddenly, now, though, anything’s possible as the Brumbies enter a challenging and potentially pivotal three-week stretch.
Queensland’s drought-breaking 47-34 success against the Kings has trimmed the Brumbies’ conference lead to seven points, while the Force — with a game in hand on the pacesetters — are only eight points adrift.
The NSW Waratahs are also now just two wins shy of the Brumbies, who travel to Wellington to take on the defending champion Hurricanes on Friday night.
The Brumbies then host the Blues before having a bye.
With Australian sides a collective none from 12 against New Zealand opposition so far in 2017, suddenly the pressure is on the Brumbies to quickly rediscover their form or risk losing control of their finals destiny.
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Hodge nails match-winner1:20
Rugby: Reece Hodge has nailed a penalty with just two minutes to go to put the Rebels ahead.
“We need to learn from this game and get better,” Brumbies captain Sam Carter said after they outscored the Rebels three tries to one and still lost.
The Rebels also had three players sin-binned but, despite the heroic win, remain long odds to make a finals charge as they languish 12 points behind the Brumbies.
Centre Tom English said the Rebels’ first win of the year had lifted the monkey off their back, but admitted uncertainty around the club’s future was still a big worry.
With both the Force and Rebels both having launched legal action against the ARU, D-Day seems a way off.
English, though, would prefer end to the uncertainty sooner rather than later.
“I think we’ll be safe but it’s important for the ARU to come out and make a decision as soon as possible because they’re playing with people’s careers,” English told Fox Sports on Sunday.
“You’re cutting a team and you are the ruling body and you’ve got to wield an axe over someone so it’s obviously a tough decision.
“But you’ve got to rip the bandaid off. The quicker it comes off, the quicker we can all move and people we can make career choices and move on with their lives.
“A bit of a different story last week compared to this week for us.”
Rebels press conference10:21
Rugby: Rebels press conference following their clash with the Brumbies.
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Originally published as ‘You’ve got to rip the bandaid off’
SOURCE: newsnow sport