MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The Melbourne Rebels overcame a slow start to beat the Western Force 30-23 in the opening match of Super 15 rugby on Friday.
The Force took advantage of Rebel flanker Scott Higginbotham's yellow card for retaliation to lead 11-0 and were still up by a point at halftime.
The Force shunned a penalty at the start of the new half to go for a try but turned over possession and the Rebels countered with lock Hugh Pyle crossing for their first lead. They didn't lose it.
O'Connor booted the Rebels to 20-16 with a quarter left when the Force's momentum was undermined by the rapid-fire sin-binnings of their flanker Chris Alcock and scrumhalf Alby Mathewson. The Rebels took advantage with a try wide out to left wing Richard Kingi for 25-16.
"We're delighted to get a win and get on the board against a very tough Force side," Rebels captain Gareth Delve said.
Melbourne Rebels 30 (Ged Robinson, Hugh Pyle, Richard Kingi tries; James O'Connor 3 conversions, 3 penalties), Western Force 23 (Alfie Mafi 2, Richard Brown tries; Kyle Godwin conversion, 2 penalties). HT: 10-11