The Rebels' Quade Cooper looks on after a disallowed try. Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP
The Rebels' Quade Cooper looks on after a disallowed try. Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Super Cooper gets Rebels home over Brumbies

THE old firm of Quade Cooper and Will Genia was back together on Friday night in Canberra, where their polished partnership ignited a fine come-from-behind victory for the Melbourne Rebels.

Cooper's first stride onto the Super Rugby stage in 19 months was a triumph.

His smart ball distribution, an early try-saving tackle and his composure made sure of a 34-27 victory over the ACT Brumbies.

This time last year Cooper had been exiled to Brisbane club rugby and told not to bother turning up to Queensland training, so certain was coach Brad Thorn that it was time to move on at the Reds.

Rebels Billy Meakes and Quade Cooper congratulate Jack Maddocks after his try. Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP
Rebels Billy Meakes and Quade Cooper congratulate Jack Maddocks after his try. Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP

There's life in Cooper's 31-year-old legs and a brain still as rugby-smart as any in the country.

All of what last night meant to Cooper  was obvious in how zealously he celebrated Jack Maddocks' super diving grab to catch a Billy Meakes' kick for the decisive try.

On full-time, there were bear hugs all round and Cooper giving a section of the Canberra crowd a two-fingered "shoosh" on the lips signal after they'd heckled him all night.

He copped the same treatment on most of his visits to Canberra as a Reds player but he clearly had the last laugh this time.

Cooper's animated most-match interview with Fox Sports showed how much his comeback meant.

"I missed it ... it was a huge bonus to play with my little mate (Genia) and I'm looking forward to the season ahead," he said.

Jack Maddocks of the Rebels drops the ball as he dives for a try. Picture: Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images
Jack Maddocks of the Rebels drops the ball as he dives for a try. Picture: Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images

So are the Rebels. The Melbourne side had tempo to their game and used it.

Cooper flattened up and took the ball to line at times, he found touch with a pinpoint 40m kick, he put on a neat spin move to elude a tackler and he didn't overplay his hand when shifting neat passes.

It was the 88th time that Cooper and Genia had appeared together in a Super Rugby game, and it showed in their first pairing since their decorated Reds careers.

Genia was even more influential. His counter-attack triggered the Rebels' first try for centre Tom English, a few quick steps from the ruck base amplified the chance for impressive lock Matt Philip to charge over, and his timely box kick created the disarray in the Brumbies leading to the late Maddocks' try.

Will Genia played a huge part for the Rebels. Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP
Will Genia played a huge part for the Rebels. Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Best of all, it was a good spectacle to open the run of Australian derbies and the Cooper-Genia show drew fans back to their TV screens.

The Brumbies lost top Wallaby flanker David Pocock to a head knock after just five minutes and some good work from backrowers Pete Samu and Rob Valetini couldn't fill the void.

Rebels No.8 Isi Naisarani was non-stop and Meakes was the efficient, tough inside centre that Wallabies coach Michael Cheika strangely never picks.

Former Reds prop James Slipper was a strong part of a superior Brumbies scrum and their go-to strength, and three rolling maul drives to the try-line off lineouts.

SCOREBOARD

REBELS 34 (Jack Maddocks 2, Tom English, Matthew Philip, Anaru Rangi tries Quade Cooper 3 cons pen) bt BRUMBIES 27 (Allan Ala'alatoa, Rory Arnold, Sam Carter, Folau Fainga'a tries Christian Leali'ifano 2 cons pen) at GIO Stadium. Referee: Ben O'Keeffe

News Corp Australia


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