Rebels edge out Force 34-30 to reach play-off

Reece Hodge scored the second try for Rebels
Reece Hodge scored the second try for Rebels

Rebels 34-30 Force, McDonald Jones Stadium

Replacement Cabous Eloff scored the decisive try in the closing stage to help Rebels edge out Force 34-30 and secure a place in the play-off of the Super Rugby AU tournament.

The win has taken Rebels to 19 points which is same as Waratahs but have sealed the third spot with a better point difference while Force return to the top tier competition ended with eight defeats from as many games.

Ian Prior started Force off the mark with a ninth minute penalty goal but Rebels claimed the lead when Tom Pincus crossed the whitewash in the 19th minute and Matt Toomua followed with the conversion.

Force fought back through 20th minute try from Henry Taefu but Reece Hodge's touchdown in the 26th minute and Toomua's double penalty and conversion meant the opening half-hour ended with a 20-8 lead for Rebels.

The visitors went on to level the scores with Andrew Ready crossing over on either side of the break but a bizarre end to the third quarter saw Force end up with a three-point lead. First Rebels lost Pincus to yellow card for a deliberate knock on and Prior kicked a penalty goal following which Brynard Stander also went over the line making the scoreline 20-30.

Rebels found form when Marika Koroibete led Dane Haylett-Petty over the line bringing the deficit to three points but Force lost the plot as they had to play most of the final quarter with a player less. Byron Ralston was yellow-carded in the 61st minute but despite that Force managed the next 10 minutes without conceding a point.

However, in the 75th minute Fergus Lee-Warner was also yellow-carded but this Rebels ensured they went over the line with Eloff's try securing a berth in the play-off where they will lock horns with Reds.