Melbourne Rebels beat Moana Pasifika 26-22 in a historic Super Rugby Pacific at AAMI Park, Melbourne.
Two tries in either half saw the Melbourne Rebels beat Moana Pasifika in the islander’s first-ever Super Rugby game on Australian soil.
James Hanson bagged a brace for Kevin Foote’s side. Reece Hodge and Andrew Kellaway also touched down for Foote’s side.
Hodge had another superb day at fullback, he kicked three conversions, scored a try (11 pts) and assisted for Kellaway’s 62nd-minute score.
Aaron Mauger’s men dug deep to stay in the contest, scoring three tries of their own.
Alamanda Motuga, Abraham Pole, and Timoci Tavatavanawai crossed for the tourists, who scored late to set the cat among the pigeons.
Christian Leali’ifano, back from injury, landed two conversions and added a penalty for seven points.
Tavatavanawai scored late to make it a one-score game, but time ran out for Moana.
The defeat is unwelcome for Mauger’s side, who have now lost seven games in a row. Foote’s charges, however, are back to winning ways.
The Victorians, who had only won twice in their previous 14 Super Rugby matches, were very relieved to hear the hooter sound.
The Rebels took a slender 14-10 lead over Moana into the shed after a forward-dominated game
All three first-half converted tries came from attacking lineouts leading to driving/rolling mauls.
Motuga crashed over for the visitors before Hanson’s brace off the back of two mauls, put the hosts 14-7 up before the half-hour mark.
Levi Aumua dotted down under the poles, but Henry Taefu could not keep hold of the ball in contact during the attack, and the score was chalked off.
Leali’ifano added a late penalty to cut the gap to four before the teams left for halftime.
Both teams cross twice in after the interval but the Rebels hang on despite late Moana coming back
The Islanders took an early second-half lead after Pole crashed over on 49 minutes.
Pole got helped over by Sekope Kepu from close range after Timoci Tavatavanawai went close.
Leali’ifano added the extras, but Hodge ran a great line to put his team back ahead, minutes later.
Hodge’s well-timed run saw him find space on the outside. He sold Danny Toala a dummy before cutting inside the fullback, and slipping Tima Fainga’anuku, to score.
The 27-year-old Australian fullback’s third conversion made it 21-17.
Hodge was involved in the next score, the first not from a front-rower, or himself.
Moana had been on the attack inside the Rebels’ 22. Cabous Eloff stripped possession to set up a counter-attack from deep.
Matt Philip combined with Joe Powell, who raced into the opposition’s half. Powell waited for support before his deflected pass found Hodge.
Hodge sucked in two defenders before sending Kellaway – breaking a seven-match drought – in for a rare score.
The conversion was no good; however, the home team had a nine-point advantage with 15 minutes remaining.
With less than seven to play, the visitors went close through Lincoln McClutchie, who raced away down the sideline.
Carter Gordon chased McClutchie down, knocked the ball out of the first-five’s hands, and saved a certain try.
Ray Nu’u saw red for a high hit on Leali’ifano to give the visitors one last shot after the hooter.
McClutchie, who was having a mixed game, missed touch, and that was the ball game.
Final Score: Rebels 26 (14) Moana 22 (10)
Tries – Hanson (2), Hodge, Kellaway
Con – Hodge (3)
Cards – Nu’u (Red, 81′)
Tries – Motuga, Pole, Tavatavanawai
Pen – Leali’ifano
Con – Leali’ifano (2)
Referee: Damon Murphy
Assistant Ref 1: Jordan Way
Assistant Ref 2: James Palmer
TMO: Oli Kellett
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Reece Hodge, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Stacey Ili, 12 Ray Nu’u, 11 Glen Vaihu, 10 Carter Gordon, 9 James Tuttle, 8 Michael Wells (captain), 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Brad Wilkin, 5 Rob Leota, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Cabous Eloff, 2 James Hanson, 1 Cameron Orr
Replacements: 16 Efi Ma’afu, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Pone Fa’amausili, 19 Josh Hill, 20 Tamati Ioane, 21 Joe Powell, 22 Nick Jooste, 23 George Worth
Moana Pasifika: 15 Danny Toala, 14 Tima Fainga’anuku, 13 Levi Aumua, 12 Henry Taefu, 11 Timoci Tavatavanawai, 10 Christian Leali’ifano, 9 Ereatara Enari, 8 Henry Time-Stowers, 7 Alamanda Motuga, 6 Michael Curry, 5 Samuel Slade, 4 Veikoso Poloniati, 3 Sekope Kepu (captain), 2 Ray Niuia, 1 Abraham Pole.
Replacements: 16 Luteru Tolai, 17 Ezekiel Lindenmuth, 18 Joe ‘Apikotoa, 19 Sione Tu’ipulotu, 20 Solomone Funaki, 21 Jonathan Taumateine, 22 Lincoln McClutchie, 23 Solomone Kata.