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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
Max McKinney

Rebels beat Canberra despite late injury setback

DESPERATE EFFORT: Cameron Anderson, left, and Ryan Glanville, right, bring down a Canberra player on Saturday. Picture: Keegan Carroll
DESPERATE: Ryan Glanville and Cameron Anderson bring down a Canberra player. Picture: Keegan Carroll
Picture: Keegan Carroll
Picture: Keegan Carroll

The Newcastle Rebels overcame the loss of lock Luke Higgins minutes before kick-off to claim a 28-16 victory over Canberra in the nation's capital on Saturday.

Higgins, from Macquarie, suffered a hip-flexor injury in the warm-up for the representative game and was forced to withdraw in a last-minute change for the side, already reshuffled after Matt Cooper (Lakes) dropped out with a hamstring injury in the days prior.

Rebels coach Dan Abraham said it had been a "hectic" few minutes assessing whether Higgins could play. He praised his players for not letting the setback hinder their performance.

"It was literally 15 seconds before kick-off otherwise we were going to start the game with 12 men," he said.

"It was a pretty good performance from the boys taking into account the effort with getting down to Canberra and preparing with a disruptive couple of weeks leading into it.

"The boys got out there and got the job done."

Higgin's Macquarie teammate Matt Moon scored a double for the Rebels, who shot out to an 18-point lead before the contest went back and forth, Abraham said.

"We expected Canberra to come out really strong and 100-mile an hour, which they did," the first-time coach said. "We'd spoken about that and knew if we weathered the storm our fitness would get us across the line eventually. We weathered the storm and got on top of them with a fast ruck-speed.

"Matty Moon did a fantastic job and then AJ Murray form Cessnock came off the bench and maintained that."

Abraham said his side gave away a couple of seven-tackle sets to give Canberra a leg up but the players' attitude in defence never allowed the home side to take the lead.

"One of the most pleasing things was the defence from the boys," he said.

"Canberra had plenty of opportunities to score tries but our defensive cohesion was pretty good considering we'd only had a couple of training sessions and had to reshuffle our ride edge.

"We closed the came out with some kicks deep into their end. If they were going to score points it was going to be from long distance."

The under-20s Rebels won 26-6. Both Rebels sides face Illawarra at Newcastle's No.2 Sportsground on June 11.

In the three first-grade catch-up games played on Sunday, Central defeated Wyong 22-14 at Morry Breen Oval, Macquarie handed Kurri their fifth consecutive loss with a 30-0 victory and Souths pipped The Entrance 16-12 at Bateau Bay.

LADDER: Maitland (14 points), Central (10), Souths (10), Macquarie (8), Wyong (8), The Entrance (6), Cessnock (6), Lakes (2), Kurri Kurri (2), Wests (0).

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