The Melbourne Rebels halted the Brumbies’ seven-match winning run with a 30-12 victory in a wet-weather contest in Melbourne on Friday. DYLAN JACK reports.
The win saw the Rebels leapfrog the Reds in second place on the Super Rugby AU table – albeit temporarily with the Reds still to face the Waratahs on Saturday – and close the gap on the log-leading Brumbies to just four points.
It will be a massive confidence booster for Dave Wessels’ Rebels side, who started the tournament shakily with a loss and draw but have since won their last three matches on the trot, scoring at least 25 points in each of those wins. They next face the Reds in what could be a decisive match in the Super Rugby AU title race.
The foundation for the victory was largely laid in the first half as a dominant Rebels side was able to take a healthy 27-7 lead into the half-time break. Fullback Reece Hodge shone with a brace, while flank Brad Wilkin and hooker Jordan Uelese also contributed tries.
While the Rebels could only add a further three points to their tally in a scrappy second half performance – with Matt To’omua slotting his second penalty – the job was done in the first half. They will be frustrated that they were unable some of their opportunities in the second half and seal the bonus point.
Unfortunately for the Brumbies, their issues with scoring tries from open play came back to bite them horribly. The Brumbies’ strength in the maul had allowed them to get away with it in previous matches, but they were only able to cross for a couple of tries at AAMI Park, with their second try coming late on when the game was already decided.
Having now surrendered their seven-game unbeaten run, the Brumbies will have plenty to work in their bye weekend as the competition passes its halfway mark, before they face the Waratahs in round eight.
Melbourne Rebels – Tries: Reece Hodge (2), Brad Wilkin, Jordan Uelese. Conversions: Matt To’omua (2). Penalties: To’omua (2)
Brumbies – Tries: Joe Powell, Will Miller. Conversions: Bayley Kuenzie.
Melbourne Rebels – 15 Reece Hodge (c-c), 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Campbell Magnay, 12 Matt Toomua (c-c), 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Andrew Deegan, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Brad Wilkin, 6 Josh Kemeny, 5 Trevor Hosea, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Cameron Orr.
Subs: 16 Efitusi Ma’afu, 17 Cabous Eloff, 18 Pone Fa’amaluli, 19 Michael Stolberg, 20 Richard Harwick, 21 Rob Leota, 22 James Tuttle, 23 Billy Meakes.
Brumbies – 15 Tom Banks, 14 Solomone Kata, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Andy Muirhead, 10 Bayley Kuenzie, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Nick Frost, 4 Darcy Swain, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (c), 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 Harry lloyd, 18 Tom Ross, 19 Will Miller, 20 Ben Hyne, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Mack Hansen, 23 Len Ikitau.
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