The Brumbies beat the Melbourne Rebels 20-26 in a tight, tense Round Nine Super Rugby AU clash at AAMI Park, Melbourne.
The Brumbies scored four tries in the win over the Rebels, who dotted down three times themselves. The scoreline, however, flattered the hosts, who were never really in this game until the final quarter of an hour.
This is the first time since 2016 that the Brumbies have managed a win in Melbourne, and the first win in five games against the Rebels away from Canberra.
Ill-discipline and two calamitous mistakes by the home team proved costly.
Three tries were scored during the two sin-bin periods, and both Tom Wright and Bayley Kuenzle’s scores came from schoolboy errors.
The unforced errors compounded the Melbourne Rebels‘ problems as the Brumbies’ pack dominated their opposition.
The loss leaves the Rebels in the fourth spot on the Super Rugby AU log with one match to play.
They are in danger of missing out on the Qualifying Playoff Round after the Western Force’s win over the NSW Waratahs put them in third.
The Victorians did, however, claim a losing bonus point with a late Matt To’omua penalty, but they were the architects of their own downfall.
The Brumbies finish in second place behind the Queensland Reds and will host the home playoff game.
This was, however, a resilient display from the Rebels, playing against the defending champions.
The brumbies threw everything at Melbourne, and despite playing 20 minutes with 14 men, the home team stayed in touch, never giving in.
Brumbies dominate the first stanza as their pack takes control, but poor finishing keeps the hosts in the contest
The visitors led 19-7 at the interval after three tries by Rory Scott, Cadeyrn Neville, and Wright, on the stroke of halftime.
All three tries were scored while the Rebels were down to 14 men after yellow cards to Marika Koroibete (17′) and Trevor Hosea (30′).
Melbourne took an early 7-0 lead after To’omua converted James Hanson’s eighth-minute try. To’omua had missed a penalty before the score as the hosts started strong.
Hanson finished off an 11-phase attack with a pick-and-go next to the posts to open the scoring.
However, the visitors came firing back, their powerful driving maul wreaking havoc as Koroibete went to the bin.
Folau Fainga’a thought he had another try, but a TMO review chalked it off for a knock-on.
Koroibete, who is still tryless this season after seven matches, compounded his side’s problems by going to the naughty step.
It did not take long, however, for the capital side to find their way over. The Brumbies score 69% of their tries from driving mauls.
Super Rugby AU Round 9 Video Highlights: Melbourne Rebels vs Brumbies at AAMI Park, Melbourne
Scott’s try, from another rolling maul, began a run of 19 unanswered points from Dan McKellar’s men.
The Brumbies could and should have scored several tries from mauls, but Melbourne, whether by legal or illegal means, stopped the ACT side’s main weapon.
Hosea went to the bin as the hosts reeled under the pressure from the opposition’s pack. Neville barged his way over the line after good work by skipper Allan Alaalatoa.
Alaalatoa carried to the line, the ball got recycled quickly by Ryan Lonergan to Neville, who charged over.
A mistake at the end of the half by the hosts cost Dave Wessels’ side.
Rob Valetini hit on Campbell Magnay, the ball bounced into Len Ikitau’s hands. Ikitau popped to Wright, who raced half the field to score in the corner.
Wessels’ charges come out firing but more mistakes continue to hamper the hosts
The Rebels started the second half well, scoring 10 points in as many minutes through Joe Powell and To’omua’s boot to bring the scores back to 17-19.
Stacey Ili won an important turnover penalty after a 12-phase Brumbies attack; the Rebels went quickly.
Tom Pincus raced through the ragged defence before playing Powell in support. The halfback broke off a couple of tackles before spinning through to score next to the posts.
But the Brumbies hit back again after a gaff by To’omua. The Rebels’ skipper ran back to clear a rolling ball inside his 22, but his kick hit Joshua Kemeny in the face.
The ball landed at the feet of Scott, who turned provider. The lock picked up the ball and sent it wide to Kuenzle to run away and score from 10 metres out.
Ryan Lonergan converted to open up a two-score lead in the 54th-minute.
To’omua knocked over a penalty from in front with less than nine minutes to play to make it a six-point game.
The Rebels outscored their guests 13-7 in the second stanza; however, the mistakes made it tough for them to claim a win.
The home team dominated the final throes of the contest, winning a scrum penalty after the hooter to set up a final attack inside the Brumbies’ 22.
But, after several phases, another handling error killed any chance of a victory, and the visitors held on for the win.
Final Score: Rebels 20 (7) Brumbies 26 (19)
Tries – Hanson, Powell
Pen – To’omua (2)
Con – To’omua (2)
Cards – Koroibete (Yellow, 17′), Hosea (Yellow, 30′)
Tries – Scott, Neville, Wright, Kuenzle
Con – R. Lonergan (3)
Referee: Damon Murphy
Assistant Ref 1: Jordan Way
Assistant Ref 2: Reuben Keane
TMO: Brett Cronan
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
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