Brumbies hold off Rebels in thriller
SUPER RUGBY AU REPORT: The Brumbies have held off the fast-finishing Rebels for a 26-20 victory, with the Super Rugby AU finals make-up to come down to the last round.
The Rebels threw everything at the Brumbies in the second half but a knock-on stopped their attempt for a match-winning try three minutes after the full-time siren.
Melbourne at least secured a bonus point, which may prove crucial with the last spot in the three-team play-offs to be decided in the final round next weekend.
That will go to either the Rebels or Western Force, with the Brumbies and unbeaten Queensland Reds already secure.
The Force scrambled to a 31-30 win over the Waratahs on Saturday to remain in the hunt, currently two points ahead of Melbourne.
The final round will see the Force host the Reds on the Friday, and the Rebels play the Waratahs in Sydney the following day and bonus points and points differential could end up deciding third spot.
That team will play the Brumbies in Canberra in the semifinal, with the Reds hosting the grand final a week later.
Poor discipline proved costly in the first half, with the Rebels losing Wallabies winger Marika Koroibete and then lock Trevor Hosea to yellow cards during a run of seven straight penalties.
They started well, with a try to hooker James Hanson, before the wheels started to fall off.
The home side got that in check in the second half and started to get on top, with scrumhalf Joe Powell bouncing off the defence to touch down two minutes after the break.
But their 19-7 half-time deficit proved tough to run down.
Rebels skipper Matt Toomua said he was “very proud” of the effort to stay in the fight.
“The scoreline probably didn’t reflect how we felt at half-time,” Toomu told Stan Sport.
“They probably had every right to be 20 up given the territory so we had a bit of energy going into half-time and that early try gave us some momentum.
“Ultimately our discipline hurt us.”
For Melbourne Rebels:
Tries: Hanson, Powell
Cons: To’omua 2
Pens: To’omua 2
Tries: Kuenzle, Neville, Scott, Wright
Cons: R Lonergan 2, Lolesio
Yellow cards: Marika Koroibete (Rebels, 16 – repeated infringements); Trevor Hosea (Rebels, 32)
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Tom Pincus, 14 Frank Lomani, 13 Stacey Ili, 12 Campbell Magnay, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Matt To’omua (captain), 9 Joe Powell, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Joshua Kemeny, 5 Trevor Hosea, 4 Robert Leota, 3 Pone Faamausili, 2 James Hanson, 1 Matt Gibbon.
Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Cabous Eloff, 18 Cameron Orr, 19 Lucio Sordoni, 20 Ross Haylett-Petty, 21 Isi Naisarani, 22 Brad Wilkin, 23 James Tuttle, 24 Lewis Holland, 25 Glen Vaihu.
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Andy Muirhead, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Bayley Kuenzle, 11 Tom Wright, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Ryan Lonergan, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Rory Scott, 6 James Tucker, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Lachlan Lonergan, 17 James Slipper, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Nick Frost, 20 Will Miller, 21 Nic White, 22 Reesjan Pasitoa, 23 Mack Hansen.
Referee: Damon Murphy
Assistant referees: Jordan Way, Reuben Keane
TMO: Brett Cronan