Super Rugby

Melbourne Rebels hold off Western Force




Melbourne Rebels beat Western Force 21-22 in seesawing Super Rugby Pacific derby at HBF Park, Perth.

The Melbourne Rebels previously went 10 Super Rugby matches without a win, and just like London busses, they have two in a row after their victory over Fijian Drua and now the Western Force.

The Rebels, despite not having much territory or possession and a calamitous set-piece, somehow had a 16-5 lead at halftime.

The Force did, however, fight back to take a slender 18-16 lead midway through the second half.

Melbourne was their own worst enemy. The Victorians played for 30 minutes with 14 men after receiving a yellow- and red cards.

Matt To’omua’s and Raymond Nu’u’s yellow- and red-carded respectively. Nu’u saw red four minutes after To’omua returned.

The first card cost 10 points as the hosts scored twice in quick succession. Both conversions were missed.

To make matters worse, the visitors managed to kick two penalties, missing one.

Moreover, the home side only managed three points during the 20-minute numerical advantage as Michael Wells’ charges held on for the win.

Kane Koteka received a yellow for the Force; however, his side managed a try while he was off.

Jordan Uelese scored the Rebels’ only try to the Force’s three, but it was the boots of To’omua and Reece Hodge that made the difference.

The 32-year-old standoff kicked three penalties and converted Uelese’s score for 11 points. Hodge kicked two goals of his own as ill-discipline did for the Perth franchise.

Manasa Mataele, Kyle Godwin, and Brad Lacey all dotted down for the home side, but Ian Prior’s profligacy from the tee settled the result.

Prior had a shocking night from the tee, missing all three conversions. Prior shared a penalty apiece with Jake Strachan.

The Western Australian game management was questionable.

With only minutes remaining, and four points down, Tim Sampson’s side opted for the points instead of kicking to the corner.

Missed kicks at goal, not being able to punish the disadvantaged opposition; conceding 13 penalties to nine – in a tight game – and losing three scrums and five lineouts, are not a recipe for success.

Force captain Godwin, speaking afterwards, made his feelings known, especially the decision to take the points instead of an attacking lineout, at the death.

The Melbourne Rebels took an 11-point halftime lead into the shed against Western Force despite a lack of possession and disastrous set-pieces

Melbourne took a 13-point lead inside the first quarter after Uelese’s sixth-minute converted try and two To’omua penalties.

A driving maul went nowhere, but the Rebels went wide to Uelese, who took To’omua’s pop-pass to score.

The hooker slipped Andrew Ready’s tackle before beating Mataele to the line.

Tim Anstee’s two indiscretions cost six points as the opposition kept the scoreboard ticking.

Koteka got sent to the sin-bin after the flanker committed his third infringement in 28 first-half minutes.

Foote’s men, however, did not take advantage of their numbers; instead, it was Sampson’s men who found a way over.

The try came from a thrilling counter-attack from the Force’s 22 that saw the hosts go nine phases up the field for Mataele’s stunning score.

The “Fijian Flyer” beat Stacey Ili and dived in for a spectacular try to put his team on the board.

To’omua went to the bin for a dangerous tackle on Harrison Lloyd, after a TMO check, and before the try was awarded.

Hodge, taking over kicking duties, increased the Rebels’ lead. He nailed a penalty after the hooter to make it 16-5 to the Victorians.

The Western Force fight back as Melbourne Rebels lose focus and disciple, while their set-pieces continue to flounder

The Western Force found a way back into the game, scoring two unconverted tries while their first receiver was on the naughty step.

Godwin and Lacey scored within five minutes of each other as the Force cut the gap to one point.

Two minutes after the restart, Mataele combined with Strachan down the touchline before the fullback’s kick-chase opened up the space behind the defence.

The ball eluded Hodge, who made a mess inside his in-goal area, which allowed Godwin to beat the defenders and touch down in the corner.

Moments later, it was death by a thousand cuts as the Force found their mojo.

This time, a patient nine-phase attack, starting inside their own 22, saw the Force cut open the Rebels, and Lacey dot down.

Prior, who was having a mare from the tee, again missed.

But the scrumhalf did kick a 55th-minute penalty, soon after Nu’u’s red card, to edge his side ahead.

To’omua pulled his attempt wide on the hour, the Force led 18-16 going into the final quarter of the game.

The rain began to fall, making handling tough, and the players’ footing slippery.

However, Greg Holmes lost his bind to give the visitors a chance to regain the lead with less than 12 minutes remaining.

To’omua, back on target, did just that as the flyhalf put his team back in front from wide.

Hodge landed a penalty from the halfway line after another scrum penalty, soon after the restart to open up a four-point lead.

Strachan pulled three back with four to play, but the better option might have been kicking to the corner to set up the maul.

Godwin’s men will never know.

Final Score: Western Force 21 (5) Melbourne Rebels 22 (16)


Western Force
Tries – Mataele, Godwin, Lacey
Pen – Prior, Strachan
Con –
Drop –
Cards – Koteka (Yellow, 28′)

Melbourne Rebels
Tries – Uelese
Pen – To’omua (3), Hodge (2)
Con – To’omua
Drop –
Cards – To’omua (Yellow, 38′), Nu’u (Red, 52′)

Match Officials
Referee: Damon Murphy
Assistant Ref 1: Graham Cooper
Assistant Ref 2: Jordan Kaminski
TMO: Kyle Burnett


Western Force: 15 Jake Strachan, 14 Brad Lacey, 13 Kyle Godwin (captain), 12 Bayley Kuenzle, 11 Manasa Mataele, 10 Reesjan Pasitoa, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Brynard Stander, 7 Kane Koteka, 6 Tim Anstee, 5 Fergus Lee-Warner, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 Harrison Lloyd.

Replacements: 16 Feleti Kaitu’u, 17 Bo Abra, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 William Sankey, 20 Ollie Callan, 21 Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, 22 Jake McIntyre, 23 Reece Tapine.

Melbourne Rebels: 15 Reece Hodge, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Stacey Ili, 12 Raymond Nu’u, 11 Glen Vaihu, 10 Matt To’omua, 9 James Tuttle, 8 Michael Wells (captain), 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Brad Wilkin, 5 Josh Canham, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Cabous Eloff, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Matt Gibbon.

Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Cameron Orr, 18 Rhys van Nek, 19 Josh Hill, 20 Sam Wallis, 21 Joe Powell, 22 Carter Gordon, 23 George Worth.

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