Australian rugby is in a tough spot but we didn’t know it was so bad the lights would go out mid-game … literally.
The Melbourne Rebels’ 10-7 win over the Western Force on Friday night in Perth descended into a farce when play was stopped in the 74th minute because some of the lights stopped working at HBF Park.
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The referee wasn’t sure if the game could continue, sending officials scrambling for the rule book to determine whether play could carry on in darker conditions.
At one point, spectators started shining their phone lights onto the paddock and after a 10-minute delay, the green light was given to keep going.
The bizarre mid-match stoppage added even more drama to a tense arm wrestle, the Force having narrowed the deficit to three courtesy of a Jack McGregor try and Rebels forward Ross Haylett-Petty being red-carded for a high tackle before the mini blackout.
The Force had a chance to win it at the death, opting against a shot at three points and instead kicking for touch when awarded a late penalty, only for the Rebels to win a scrum penalty of their own and hang on for victory.
Not all the lights were shining in Perth.Source:Getty Images
It was the Melbourne side’s first win of the season from three games, as it sits above the Force and Waratahs, but below the Reds and Brumbies, in the all-Australian competition that has changed shape because of COVID-19.
Rebels captain Matt Toomua was thrilled his side had finally got on the board.
“I’ve never been involved in a game where the lights cut out, a red card — what a game,” he said.
“For us to get an away win is huge. It summed up the character of this group. There was a lot of heart and resilience there.”
Rebels coach Dave Wessels added: “We’ve been on the road for a long time now and we’ve come so close in the previous two games and let things slip.
“The resilience to finish the job … I’m just really proud of the guys.”
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