The Melbourne Rebels beat the Western Force 20-25 after Super Time of Super Rugby AU in Round Five grudge match at Leichhardt Oval, Sydney.
Isi Naisarani won the game for the Rebels when he scored two minutes into Super Time after the two teams were level at 20-all after 80 minutes, to put Melbourne level with the Reds in Super Rugby AU.
Reece Hodge missed a late penalty to win the game for Dave Wessels’ side, but it did not come back to bite the Melbourne team.
Defeat for the winless Western Force sees the Perth-based team rooted to the foot of the Super Rugby AU table.
It was all square at the break after Fergus Lee-Warner and Jordan Uelese crossed for each team.
Hodge kicked a last-gasp long-range penalty to level the scores at the break following Lance’s first penalty and conversion.
Isi Naisarani’s yellow card, on 25 minutes, cost his side seven points, but the Rebels managed the one-person deficit with ease as both teams went into the shed at 10-all.
Despite captain Jeremey Thrush’s yellow card 10 minutes after halftime, the Force took a 17-13 lead as the Rebels struggled to hold onto the ball.
Byron Ralston and Matt Philip traded scores before the hour mark before Lance’s 64th-minute penalty levelled proceedings at 20-all.
The accurate Lance missed a late penalty to win the game for his team when he shanked a 76th-minute penalty.
Hodge missed a chance to win the game for Melbourne when his last-ditch penalty fell short of the uprights in the 82nd-minute.
It did not matter, though, because Naisarani’s Super Time try won the game for his side.
It was a return of the Australian grudge match, but the contest was not feisty despite the two teams’ infamous historical animosity.
Both teams went hammer and tongs in what can only be described as a ‘grudge match’ following the Western Force’s eviction from Super Rugby in 2017.
The Force, still angry at their franchise’s axing instead of the Rebels after the restructuring of Super Rugby, had an axe to grind in New South Wales.
Skipper Ian Prior, Pek Cowan, Jono Lance, and Marcel Brache are among the current players who experienced the ultimate of lows three years ago.
Lance opened the scoring in the 12th-minute after Jermaine Ainsley got pinged for offside.
Brynard Stander went close, but the big No 8 was tackled into touch after a smart lineout move by the Force.
Both teams struggled to make the most of their limited possession in attacking areas.
Scuffles brought the game to a halt. Referee Angus Gardner had to talk to both captains.
Lee-Warner flopped over the whitewash before the half-hour after Naisarani’s yellow card gave the Perth side a numerical advantage.
The Force went to their driving maul and powered over the line to take a 10-point lead.
Uelese crashed over in the corner after a sublime lineout-move to halve the deficit, a few minutes later.
To’omua landed the sideline conversion to make it a three-point game.
Hodge landed a long-range penalty on the stroke of halftime to level the scores at the break.
The Rebels came out firing after the interval, but the Force held them at bay, as the teams went tit for tat.
Force skipper Thrush saw yellow after his team committed multiple infringements inside their red zone.
Frank Lomani went close but was tackled into touch.
To’omua edged his team ahead on 53 minutes after Melbourne opted for the points.
Ralston, however, crashed over in the corner soon after, but Philip put the Rebels ahead on the hour following a series of pick-and-goes.
Philip barged over soon afterwards, and Lance levelled with another penalty with less than 15 minutes remaining.
The Rebels kept coming but Esei Haangana knocked-on inside the opposition’s 22 to kill another promising attack.
Lance, who had kicked five from five, missed a golden opportunity to win the game for his team when he missed a straightforward penalty with less than four minutes to play.
It gave the Rebels a chance of their own, but they could not make their luck count.
Hodge’s long-range injury-time penalty dropped short to send the teams into Super Time.
A terrible restart by the Force led to Naisarani winning the game a few minutes after the game went into Super Time.
Final Score after Super Time is Force 20 (10) Rebels 25 (10)
Tries – Lee-Warner, Ralston
Pen – Lance (2)
Con – Lance (2)
Cards – Thrush (Yellow, 50′)
Tries – Uelese, Philip, Naisarani
Pen – Hodge, To’omua
Con – To’omua (2)
Cards – Naisarani (Yellow, 25′)
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant Ref 1: Amy Perrett
Assistant Ref 2: Reuben Keane
TMO: James Leckie
15 Jack McGregor, 14 Byron Ralston, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Richard Kahui, 11 Marcel Brache, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Brynard Stander, 7 Tevin Ferris, 6 Henry Stowers, 5 Fergus Lee-Warner, 4 Jeremy Thrush (captain), 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Feleti Kaitu’u, 1 Chris Heiberg
Replacements: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Tom Sheminant, 19 Johan Bardoul, 20 Ollie Callan, 21 Jacob Abel, 22 Henry Taefu, 23 Brad Lacey
15 Reece Hodge (co-captain), 14 Tom Pincus, 13 Andrew Kellaway, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Matt To’omua (co-captain), 9 Ryan Louwrens, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Michael Wells, 5 Trevor Hosea, 4 Esei Haangana, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Cameron Orr
Replacements: 16 Efitusi Ma’afu, 17 Cabous Eloff, 18 Pone Fa’amaluli, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Rob Leota, 21 Brad Wilkin, 22 Frank Lomani, 23 Andrew Deegan