Kiwi Rebel has good reason to celebrate
New Zealand-born Richard Kingi proved his worth for the Melbourne Rebels with a star turn in the opening game of this year's Super Rugby tournament.
Kingi, a cousin of All Black Tanerau Latimer, produced a sublime flick pass behind his back to set up the try that put the Rebels into the lead for the first time against the Western Force in Melbourne on Friday night.
About to be bundled into touch by two defenders just short of the Force tryline, Kingi somehow got a pass away to Hugh Pyle, who scored.
He then backed that up by scoring Melbourne's next try as the Rebels kicked off a season with a win for the first time in the franchise's history.
In doing so, they showed they are a stronger side than the first two years of their existence.
New generation Wallaby stars James O'Connor and Kurtley Beale combined with a hard-nosed forward pack to secure a 30-23 victory after trailing 11-0.
O'Connor, beefed up from last season and sporting a new hairstyle, and Beale showed the value of the two Wallaby stars managing to stay on the field at the same time, something that happened only a handful of times last season because of injuries. Both looked dangerous every time they had a chance to attack.
And the two stars were superbly backed up by the team's underrated forwards, who surprised the Force with their solid set-pieces and impressive work around the field.
Former All Blacks halfback Alby Mathewson was sin-binned late in the match in his debut for the Force.
Rebels 30 (Richard Kingi, Hugh Pyle, Ged Robinson tries James O'Connor 3 con, 3 pen) Force 23 (Alfie Mafi 2, Richard Brown tries Kyle Godwin con, 2 pen).
Sunday Star Times