“I think both of them played exceptionally, they were probably the two best players on the field, to be fair, for either side.
“Noah flattening up really early in the game, scoring his own meat pie [try] there. He hasn’t been pushing up into that space early in the season and today he took the cuffs off and was playing right at the line. It was awesome for us.”
Lolesio wasn’t the only one targeting Gordon, the Rebels No.10 enduring a torrid test at first receiver, best encapsulated in a crunching tackle from Brumbies centre Tamati Tua that left Gordon with a bloodied lip.
Gordon was the bolter in Jones’s April camp, joining Ben Donaldson at Sanctuary Cove in the first meeting of the new Wallabies regime.
He has been singled out for praise by Jones and has been a tough, hard-running playmaker for Melbourne this season. He was on fire again on Sunday, tough in defence and flat on attack, sending a bullet to Lachie Anderson for the winger’s second-half try and snatching up an errant pass to score in the 71st minute and keep his team in the hunt.
The scenes would have been a sight for sore eyes to Jones, who was in the AAMI Park stands along with his Wallabies assistants.
Jones has made no secret of wanting his players to show him what they’re made of, including challenging each other to bring out their best.
He would have been delighted to see two youngsters taking the message to heart. Lolesio was fired up after missing the cut in April, while Gordon showed no signs of going into his shell despite the relentless pressure.
“He’s copped a beating out there and he doesn’t look like he’s going to shirk it,” Stan commentator Stephen Hoiles said at half-time.
The two sides were tit-for-tat in the first half, the Brumbies going into the sheds leading three tries to two for a 21-14 scoreline.
Gordon’s try narrowed the gap to 33-26 and the Rebels were camped down in the Brumbies’ 22-metre zone, but staunch defence held off the home side for a gritty win.
“It’s tough coming down to Melbourne, they start real fast and they showed it today,” Brumbies centre Len Ikitau said. “[We] almost lost it for the boys but happy to get the win.”
Gordon and Lolesio are both Brisbane-raised playmakers, rising through the ranks at the same time and only a year apart in age.
Gordon attended Brisbane Boys’ College, the same school as former Test players Darcy Swain, Tom Banks, Will Genia and James Horwill, while Lolesio was a product of The Southport School, another rugby nursery that produced players James Slipper, Scott Higginbotham, Mat Rogers and Nathan Sharpe.
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