Super Rugby

Melbourne Rebels repel woeful Waratahs




The Melbourne Rebels beat the NSW Waratahs 25-36 in the final round of Super Rugby AU at Bankwest Stadium, Parramatta.

The Rebels’ win, however, is for naught. The Western Force’s upset win over the previously undefeated Queensland Reds in Perth meant the Melbourne side could not make the playoffs.

The rudderless, error-riddled defeat leaves the woeful Waratahs winless; an ignominious season complete.

New South Wales is now the fifth team in Super Rugby to claim this unwanted record.

The Bulls in 2002, Lions in 2010, Western Force in 2020 Super Rugby AU, and Chiefs in 2020 Super Rugby Aotearoa all endured humiliating campaigns. 

Dave Wessels’ charges scored four tries, two in each half, while the coachless Tahs crossed twice. Matt To’omua kicked four penalties and two conversions for a haul of 16 points.

Stacey Ili, Michael Wells, Robert Leota, and Matt Gibbon all crossed for the visitors. Mark Nawaqanitawase and David Porecki dotted down for NSW.

This defeat summed up the Sydney side’s horrible season. The Tahs could not score any points in the final five minutes despite having a two-man advantage after the Rebels received a yellow and red card.

To sum up this annus horribilis, the hosts managed to botch a certain try from a driving maul for obstruction.

They then proceeded to lose their own scrum – before the siren – notwithstanding their numerical advantage – what a mess.

The Rebels will rue a couple of poor results earlier in the campaign, which ultimately cost them a playoff shot.

The Melbourne Rebels dominate despite going down to 14 men for 20 minutes after Isi Naisarani’s red card

The Rebels took a slender 21-18 lead into the break despite having Naisarani red-carded for a dangerous high tackle on Max Douglas in the 20th-minute.

Ili opened the scoring after 34 seconds to get the Rebels rolling. The centre, standing alone on the touchline, collected To’omua’s crossfield kick to dot down in the corner.

To’omua added the extras. Ben Donaldson kicked two penalties, but poor defending by the hosts saw Wells combine with Naisarani on a blindside break off the back of a scrum, to stroll in for the score.

To’omua missed the conversion but he did kick two penalties on either side of Naisarani’s red card to make it 18-6 to the visitors.

Nawaqanitawase got his side back into the game after the Waratahs finally managed to finish an attacking move.

Another To’omua penalty gave the Victorians a 10-point lead.

But Maddocks crossed before the interval to close the gap to three after Donaldson’s conversion.

Rebels do enough to win this dead-rubber thanks to profligate Waratahs

Leota, who had a first-half try chalked off for obstruction, crashed over after a well-worked driving maul, three minutes after the restart.

To’omua’s conversion reopened another 10-point lead. The Waratahs fought back again, though, scoring from close range when Porecki dotted down next to a ruck.

The TMO took an age to award the try, but when he did, Donaldson’s conversion again brought it back to within one score.

As was always the case, every time New South Wales scored, they conceded points soon after. To’omua’s fourth penalty goal made it 31-25 to the visitors after 53 minutes.

Both teams had chances before Gibbon barged over from the side of a ruck to score the Rebels’ fourth try, with 14 minutes to play.

James Hanson and Pone Faamausili were yellow- and red-carded, respectively, in the space of two minutes, and still, the Waratahs could not score.

Joe Cotton thought he scored from a driving maul only to have the referee disallow the try for truck and trailer in the build-up.

To make matters worse for the Tahs, they conceded a scrum penalty despite the opposition’s pack only having seven men – what a disaster.

Final Score: Waratahs 25 (18) Rebels 36 (21)


Tries – Nawaqanitawase, Porecki
Pen – Donaldson (2)
Con – Donaldson (2)
Drop –
Cards –

Tries – Ili, Wells, Leota, Gibbon
Pen – To’omua (4)
Con – To’omua (2)
Drop –
Cards – Naisarani (Red, 20′), Hanson (Yellow, 75′), Faamausili (Red, 77′)


Match Officials
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant Ref 1: Amy Perrett
Assistant Ref 2: Brett Cronan
TMO: James Leckie


NSW Waratahs

15 Jack Maddocks, 14 Alex Newsome, 13 Izaia Perese, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 James Ramm, 10 Ben Donaldson, 9 Jake Gordon (captain), 8 Will Harris, 7 Carlo Tizzano, 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Max Douglas, 4 Hugh Sinclair, 3 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 2 David Porecki, 1 Angus Bell

16 Joe Cotton, 17 Te Tera Faulkner, 18 Darcy Breen, 19 Jeremy Williams, 20 Michael Wood, 21 Charlie Gamble, 22 Jack Grant, 25 Mark Nawaqanitawase

Melbourne Rebels

15 Tom Pincus, 14 Frank Lomani, 13 Stacey Ili, 12 Campbell Magnay, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Matt To’omua (captain), 9 Joe Powell, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Brad Wilkin, 6 Michael Wells, 5 Ross Haylett- Petty, 4 Robert Leota, 3 Cabous Eloff, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Cameron Orr

16 James Hanson, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Pone Faamausili, 19 Steve Cummins, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Joshua Kemeny, 22 Carter Gordon, 23 George Worth

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