The Melbourne Rebels got their Super Rugby season off to a flying start with a 35-14 bonus point win over the Cheetahs. The five try victory came about through some great leadership, and play, from Wallaby Scott Higginbotham.
The win was their biggest in Super Rugby to date, and on the back of strong preseason victories, they’re in confident mood and will continue to put bums on seats in Melbourne. It was also their first win in four encounters with the Bloemfontein based side, who last year made the playoffs.
Despite losing the likes of James O’Connor and Kurtley Beale, the Rebels have tightened up aspects of their game that let them down in the past, particularly defence, and in Higginbotham have a genuine leader.
“Higginbotham was quite outstanding in terms of how he was so instrumental in terms of leading by example,” said former Auckland Blues Super Rugby winner Sean Fitzpatrick. “He has been crucial in terms of the team culture and what it takes to be successful.”
The 23-times capped Wallaby set up a Jason Woodward try in the corner through some excellent quick thinking, and a decent amount of skill and confidence too. His crosskick from a quick tap penalty was perfectly placed, and possibly only outdone by the way the match finished.
The final try was scrappy but it came from a deep counter attack and after going through a number of hands, found the big number eight out on the wing, who opted for a sprint, goose step and fend before diving in at the corner and dotting down with one hand.
“Scott Higginbotham’s try was excellent. He really got stuck in and inspired his players – they never let up and even when the Cheetahs came back in the second half, he rallied his players to close them down,” said former Wallaby flyhalf Michael Lynagh.
“A great performance from him. He made a lot of good decisions with and without the ball.”
It was two great pieces of play by a hefty number eight, so worth sharing in the video below.