Rebels grind their way past Reds
MATCH REPORT: Melbourne have cracked a confidence-boosting win over Queensland to reaffirm their position at the top of the Australian Super Rugby conference.
The Rebels ran in four tries to two for a 30-24 victory at AAMI Park on Friday for a welcome victory after three successive losses.
It was far from their best performance but it allowed Melbourne to move four points clear of their nearest rivals, the Brumbies, at least until their game in Canberra against the Sunwolves on Sunday afternoon to complete the round.
Despite dominating possession and territory and two Reds’ yellow cards, the Rebels only held a three point lead at halftime.
Queensland lost skipper Samu Kerevi for tackling Will Genia in the air while Scott Higginbottom faced the same fate after illegally collapsing a maul with their discipline telling throughout the match.
After wing Marika Koroibete opened their scoring Melbourne took a leaf out of the Brumbies’ playbook and used their rolling maul for hooker Anaru Rangi to rumble across.
Queensland’s first half try was scored by Isaac Lucas, who replaced injured fullback Hamish Stewart midway through the half.
The Australian under-20s representative showed some individual brilliance to turn Koroibete inside out before touching down.
Melbourne scored twice early in the second half to push the margin out to 24-11 but they were unable to shake the visitors.
The Rebels lost flyhalf Quade Cooper to a head-knock while he tried to tackle Kerevi.
A minute later Reds prop Harry Hoopert was across the line, while the conversion and then a penalty strike by Bryce Hegarty kept their team in the game.
But the Rebels defence stood up to repel the visitors’ hopes of an upset and they were forced to settle for a bonus point.
Man of the match: There were very few to select from however Rebels hooker Anaru Rangi stood a head above the rest with his abrasive defence and therefore he gets out nod for man of the match.
Tries: Koroibete, Rangi, Faulkner, Haylett-Petty
Cons: Cooper 2
Pens: Hodge 2
Tries: Lucas, Hoopert
Pens: Hegarty 4
Yellow cards: Samu Kerevi (Reds, 15 – Dangerous Tackle), Scott Higginbotham (Reds, 40 – Cynical foul)
As it happened: Rebels v Reds
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Melbourne Rebels: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty (captain), 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Angus Cottrell, 6 Luke Jones, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Tetera Faulkner.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Pone Fa’amausili, 20 Rob Leota, 21 Richard Hardwick, 22 Michael Ruru, 23 Campbell Magnay.
Reds: 15 Hamish Stewart, 14 Jock Campbell, 13 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 12 Samu Kerevi (captain), 11 Sefa Naivalu, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Liam Wright, 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Angus Blyth, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Alex Mafi, 1 JP Smith.
Replacements: 16 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 17 Harry Hoopert, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 20 Caleb Timu, 21 Moses Sorovi, 22 Duncan Paia’aua, 23 Isaac Lucas.
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Damon Murphy (Australia), Graham Cooper (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)