After Rhule increased the lead, Willie le Roux, Johann Sadie and Rayno Benjamin scored tries while Francis kicked three conversions and a penalty.
O’Connor converted a late try by forward Cadeyrn Neville and also slotted three penalties for the Rebels, who had lock Luke Jones sin-binned 12 minutes from time.
WARATAHS V FORCE
Adam Ashley-Cooper celebrated his 100th Super Rugby game with a try that helped the New South Wales Waratahs to a 23-19 win over the Western Force in Sydney yesterday.
Ashley-Cooper scored in the 46th minute of the match that was stop-start with neither side able to develop any continuity.
Both teams were also heavily penalized, particularly at the breakdown, by referee Steve Walsh, which lead to Waratahs scrumhalf Brendan McKibbin slotting six penalties, while Force flyhalf Sias Ebersohn kicked four.
The Force actually started with purpose, stringing phases together and driving down the field to go out to a 6-0 lead courtesy of two penalties from Ebersohn.
However, the Waratahs slowly built back into the game with McKibbin slotting two penalties.
Force prop Salesi Ma’afu was then sinbinned for a high tackle on Waratahs’ hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau about 20 minutes into the first half, which allowed McKibbin to slot three more penalties.
Ebersohn managed to reduce the gap just before the break to go into halftime trailing 15-9.
McKibbin slotted his fourth penalty of the game just a minute after the restart before Ashley-Cooper gave the home side a 23-9 lead.
However, Alfie Mafi dragged Force back into the game with a try and Ebersohn converted and added his fourth penalty to make the last 20 minutes close.
Waratahs prop Benn Robinson, also celebrating his 100th Super Rugby game, fittingly provided the coup de grace when he snaffled the ball at a turnover after the fulltime hooter sounded and the Waratahs kicked the ball into touch.