Rebels end drought in Melbourne snorefest
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: The Rebels won their first game of 2020, when they beat the Waratahs 24-10 in a drab encounter in Melbourne on Friday.
Both teams were searching for their first victory heading into the round three match, but the Rebels emerged from the driving rain with the hard-earned points.
While the wet weather contributed to the high error rate, both teams also showed why few people regard them as serious title contenders.
For the Waratahs it represents one of their worst starts to a season – three consecutive losses and no light at the end of a dark tunnel.
The Waratahs had won six of their past seven matches in Melbourne dating back to 2013 and 15 of their past 17 overall, making the victory all the sweeter for the home side.
Melbourne led 8-5 at halftime with a new halves combination in Ryan Louwrens and Matt Toomua steering the ship with aplomb.
The kicking game of Toomua and fullback Dane Haylett-Petty gave the Rebels a big advantage over the Sydneysiders.
They were rocked before kick off when they had to change their bench and drag Fijian Test scrumhalf Frank Lomani with coach Dave Wessels told by Rugby Australia they had too many internationals in their match day squad.
They then lost Test back Reece Hodge to a groin strain 19 minutes in, however his replacement Andrew Kellaway finished with two late tries to seal the win.
With both teams struggling in the conditions, Wallabies winger Marika Koroibete was the only try-scorer in the first half.
The Rebels looked to have scored another just before the break however the TMO ruled Koroibete obstructed the defence as Bill Meakes touched down.
The Waratahs took the lead in the 45th minute when prop Harry Johnson-Holmes barrelled over but it only lasted two minutes before Melbourne hit back through a successful penalty.
Kellaway’s efforts then secured a much-needed win for his team.
Man of the match: In a game of few highlights and a litany of errors, Rebels scrumhalf Ryan Louwrens produced the defining moments – with his service at the base and his kicking out of hand.
For the Rebels:
Tries: Koroibete, Kellaway 2
Pens: Toomua 3
For the Waratahs:
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty (captain), 14 Reece Hodge, 13 Campbell Magnay, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Ryan Louwrens, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Michael Wells, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Ruan Smith, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Matt Gibbon.
Replacements: 16 Steven Misa, 17 Cameron Orr, 18 Cabous Eloff, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Rob Leota, 21 Angus Cottrell, 22 Theo Strang, 23 Andrew Kellaway.
Waratahs: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Cameron Clark, 13 Alex Newsome, 12 Karmichael Hunt, 11 Jack Maddocks, 10 Will Harrison, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jed Holloway, 5 Rob Simmons (captain), 4 Tom Staniforth, 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 Robbie Abel, 1 Angus Bell.
Replacements: 16 Damien Fitzpatrick, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Tetera Faulkner, 19 Ryan McCauley, 20 Lachlan Swinton, 21 Mitch Short, 22 Lalakai Foketi, 23 Mark Nawaqanitawase.
Referee: Damon Murphy (Australia)
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs (South Africa), Nic Berry (Australia)
TMO: Ian Smith (Australia)