Rebels beat Highlanders in Super Rugby thriller but Force loses only

The Rebels won a thrilling 31-30 win over the Highlanders in Melbourne on Sunday but the lone losers in the game watched half the continent away on the big screen.

Western Force players gathered to watch the game, knowing that if a rebel won by more than seven points, the WA team would be relegated to the quarterfinals before the eighth and Highlanders.

For four glorious minutes – between the 56th and 60th minutes – the rebels led eight but before the Kiwis could advance again, Young Tonumaipia put the rebels ahead of those who had been eliminated from the final.

The Highlanders took a bonus point to defeat the Force and clashed with the Blues in Eden Park on Saturday.

“Your heart goes out to the players and supporters of Western Australia,” said Andrew Mehertens in the Stan commentary. “It’s not far off a great win that they finished their season last night and they can continue their farewells for Tim Sampson and some senior players.”

Rebel’s Brad Wilkin said: “We’d like to have a few more points to take the Force to the finals, but our focus was on the high end.”

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