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Hurricanes, Blues march on as Rebels' Super Rugby tenure ends

SUPER RUGBY WRAP: Melbourne Rebels’ last ever Super Rugby Pacific match has ended in heartbreak, with the Hurricanes storming to a 47-20 victory on the back of a big second half in Wellington.

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With the financially stricken club closed down by Rugby Australia after 14 seasons, Saturday’s brave loss saw the Rebels bow out in their first-ever final.

They followed the same path as Queensland, who were ousted by the Chiefs in their quarterfinal on Friday.

The Blues – who finished the regular season a solitary bonus point behind the Hurricanes – overpowered the Fijian Drua in the forwards to win 36-5 in Auckland.

Meanwhile, the Brumbies became the only Australian team in the Super Rugby semifinals after they overcame the Highlanders.

The Brumbies converted a one-point halftime lead into an authoritative 32-16 victory over the Highlanders in Saturday’s fourth and last quarterfinal.

Some Rebels players and supporters were outwardly emotional after the full-time whistle.

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They won’t return next year after Rugby Australia decided to shut down the club, which went into administration in January owing almost Aus$23 million (US$15 million).

Captain Rob Leota was pleased his team were competitive in what was the Rebels’ first play-offs appearance in a full Super Rugby campaign.

“It was our goal from the start of the year to be the greatest Rebels team ever,” he said.

“We had high hopes to go further but you can’t give opportunities to a team like the Hurricanes.

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“For this club, we hope we did everyone proud and hopefully we can see this team come back in the next couple of years.”

Rebels wing Lachie Anderson scored a late double but it was too little too late, with the Hurricanes bagging five second-half tries to secure an emphatic win.

Melbourne threw everything at the Hurricanes early on, and unsettled the home side with their rushing defence.

They became the first team this season to stop the Hurricanes scoring a try in the opening 20 minutes, twice holding the home side up over the line with some desperate defence.

But the Rebels’ 3-0 lead evaporated four minutes later when prop Pasilio Tosi barrelled over the line.

Another Rebels penalty closed the gap to 7-6, but twice Carter Gordon failed to find touch with clearing kicks and the Hurricanes went into halftime up 14-6, with centre Joshua Moorby finding a hole to score in the 39th minute.

The Wellington men also struck first in the second half, with All Black centre Jordie Barrett slipping out of a Rob Leota tackle before finding No.8 Brayden Iose.

Two more tries within three minutes meant there was a mountain to climb for the Rebels, with the lead out to 35-6 after 57 minutes.

Anderson finally opened the Rebels’ try-scoring account in the 65th minute when he ran on to an off-load from his skipper Leota.

He was in again two minutes later after a charging run by reserve Melbourne back-row Vaiolini Ekuasi.

Two late Hurricanes tries, scored by reserves Du’Plessis Kirifi and Kini Naholo, meant the scoreline blew out, with their team marching on to next week’s semifinals.

Meanwhile, the Blues were in command at 22-0 up following first-half tries to captain Dalton Papali’i, Finlay Christie and Caleb Clarke.

A Drua backline brimming with talent had few opportunities although winger Selestino Ravutaumada streaked clear for a final individual try soon after the break.

The Blues conjured two late tries, including a second to Clarke.

There will be concern over a knee injury that forced in-form Blues captain and lock Patrick Tuipulotu from the field after 20 minutes.

Saturday’s scores and scorers: 

Hurricanes 49-20 Rebels

The scorers:

For Hurricanes:
Tries: Tosi, Moorby, Iose, Aumua, Flanders, Kirifi, Naholo
Cons: Cameron 7

For Melbourne Rebels:
Tries: Anderson 2
Cons: Gordon 2
Pens: Gordon 2

Teams

Hurricanes: 15 Ruben Love, 14 Josh Moorby, 13 Billy Proctor, 12 Jordie Barrett (captain), 11 Salesi Rayasi, 10 Brett Cameron, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Brayden Iose, 7 Peter Lakai,, 6 Devan Flanders, 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 James Tucker, 3 Pasilio Tosi, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Xavier Numia.
Replacements: 16 James O’Reilly, 17 Pouri Rakete-Stones, 18 Tevita Mafileo, 19 Brad Shields, 20 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 21 Richard Judd, 22 Bailyn Sullivan, 23 Kini Naholo.

Rebels: 15 Andrew Kellaway, 14 Lachie Anderson, 13 Filipo Daugunu, 12 David Feiluai, 11 Darby Lancaster, 10 Carter Gordon, 9 Ryan Louwrens, 8 Rob Leota (captain), 7 Brad Wilkin, 6 Josh Kemeny, 5 Josh Canham, 4 Angelo Smith, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Isaac Kailea.
Replacements: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Tuaina Taii Tualima, 20 Maciu Nabolakasi, 21 Vaiolini Ekuasi, 22 James Tuttle, 23 Nick Jooste

Referee: James Doleman
Assistant referees: Jono Bredin and Fraser Hannon
TMO: Chris Hart

Blues 36-5 Fijian Drua

The scores:

For Blues:
Tries: Papali’i, Chrisite, Clarke 2, Eklund
Cons: Plummer 4
Pen: Plummer

For Fijian Drua:
Try: Ravutaumada

Teams

Blues: 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Mark Tele’a, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 AJ Lam, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Harry Plummer, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papali’i, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Josh Beehre, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 3 Marcel Renata, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Ofa Tu’ungafasi.
Replacements: 16 Kurt Eklund, 17 Joshua Fusitu’a, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Cameron Suafoa, 20 Adrian Choat, 21 Taufa Funaki, 22 Corey Evans, 23 Cole Forbes.

Fijian Drua: 15 Ilaisa Droasese, 14 Selestino Ravutaumada, 13 Iosefo Masi, 12 Kemu Valetini, 11 Waqa Nalaga, 10 Isaiah Armstrong-Ravula, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Meli Derenalagi (captain), 7 Kitione Salawa, 6 Etonia Waqa, 5 Leone Rotuisolia, 4 Mesake Vocevoce, 3 Mesake Doge, 2 Tevita Ikanivere, 1 Livai Natave.
Replacements: 16 Zuriel Togiatama, 17 Emosi Tuqiri, 18 Samu Tawake, 19 Isoa Nasilasila, 20 Motikiai Murray, 21 Elia Canakaivata, 22 Peni Matawalu, 23 Caleb Muntz.

Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant referees: Jordan Way and Reuben Keane
TMO: Brett Cronan

Brumbies 32-16 Highlanders

The scorers:

For Brumbies:
Tries: Muirhead 2, Pollard 2
Cons: Lolesio 3
Pens: Lolesio 2

For Highlanders:
Try: Nareki
Con: Millar
Pens: Millar 3

Teams

Brumbies: 15 Tom Wright, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Tamati Tua, 11 Corey Toole, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Ryan Lonergan, 8 Charlie Cale, 7 Jahrome Brown, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Tom Hooper, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Billy Pollard, 1 Harry Vella,
Replacement: 16 Liam Bowron, 17 Rhys van Nek, 18 Sosefo Kautai, 19 Nick Frost, 20 Luke Reimer, 21 Harrison Goddard, 22 Jack Debreczeni, 23 Ollie Sapsford

Highlanders: 15 Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens, 14 Timoci Tavatavanawai, 13 Tanielu Tele’a, 12 Sam Gilbert, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Cameron Millar, 9 Folau Fakatava, 8 Billy Harmon (co-captain),7 Sean Withy, 6 Oliver Haig, 5 Fabian Holland, 4 Mitch Dunshea, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Henry Bell, 1 Ethan de Groot (co-captain).
Replacements: 16 Jack Taylor, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Saula Ma’u, 19 Max Hicks, 20 Nikora Broughton, 21 James Arscott, 22 Jake Te Hiwi, 23 Finn Hurley

Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant referees: Damon Murphy and Matt Kellahan
TMO: James Leckie

Source: AAP & AFP

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