‘They’ve got that wrong’: Reds denied in wildly controversial finish as Rebels hold on in epic comeback win


The Rebels’ season of promise has taken yet another strong stride forward, as Brad Wilkin’s men held on to secure a controversial come-from-behind 40-34 victory over the Queensland Reds in Melbourne.

Trailing 14-0 after as many minutes, the Rebels quickly responded after winning the physicality battle and off quick ball the home side extraordinarily took a 26-14 lead into the main break.

But the Reds managed to burst out of the blocks in the second half as Brad Thorn’s half-time talk worked wondered as the visitors scored three straight tries to take back the lead.

Once again though, the Rebels came back scoring two converted tries to seize back the momentum and move to a 40-34 lead.

Vaiolini Ekuasi celebrates during his side’s win at AAMI Park on March 25, 2023, in Melbourne. Photo: Kelly Defina/Getty Images

It was at that back point, the controversy began at Television Match Official Brett Cronan lobbed twice in the final 10 minutes.

After replacement loose-forward Daniel Maiava appeared to have pounced on an under pressure Tate McDermott to run 50 metres to score, Rebels captain Brad Wilkin was first deemed to have stripped the ball loose of Harry Wilson.

Soon after, in the 77th minute, McDermott’s own try out wide, which would have given James O’Connor a chance to give the visitors a late lead, was rubbed out after Ryan Smith was deemed to hold Josh Kemeny back despite the flanker moving in the wrong direction.

Both incidents, particularly the latter, were criticised by former Wallabies Tim Horan, Drew Mitchell and Morgan Turinui on Stan Sport.

“It doesn’t stop him from getting there. He had already made his decision to go open,” Mitchell said.

“I just think that refereeing decision isn’t up to Super Rugby Pacific standard. I think Brett Cronan’s got it wrong. I think they’ve talked Cooper into it. When he says it’s a clear hold back, it’s not. When they say it denies the opportunity to make a tackle that was never going to be made, it’s wrong. They’ve got that wrong,” Turinui added.

The Reds had one final chance to win the game, but despite attacking the Rebels’ line for more than 14 phases some loose play meant the home side held on to secure an important win.

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