Queensland Reds beat Melbourne Rebels 32-36 in an erratic although entertaining Super Rugby Pacific contest at AAMI Park, Melbourne.
The Queensland Reds snuffed out a late second-half comeback by the Melbourne Rebels to make it six Super Rugby wins on the trot versus the Victorians.
The teams shared nine tries in another enjoyable Australian derby; although, the game of the day is the classic served up by the Blues and Crusaders in Christchurch.
Melbourne overcame two 14-point deficits to lead by one going into the last quarter of an hour.
Queensland, however, went up the gears with two quick-fire scores in as many minutes to reopen a two-score 11-point margin with time running out.
The Rebels managed another converted try, but the Reds saw the game out.
Connor Vest, Tate McDermott, Lawson Creighton, Taniela Tupou, and Josh Flook scored for the visitors.
James O’Connor added a penalty and four conversions for 11 points in a flawless display from the tee.
Richard Hardwick, James Hanson, Matt Philip, and Cabous Eloff crossed for the home team.
Matt To’omua kicked a penalty and three conversions (9 pts), while Reece Hodge added a penalty from distance.
The Rebels fought back from 17-3 down in the first half to lead for the first time in the game 25-24, with 16 minutes remaining.
The Reds, however, dug deep and hit back. Brad Thorn’s men scored twice in as many minutes to open another two-score advantage.
Kevin Foote’s charges struck again with less than six to play to make it a nervy finish for the visitors.
But Thorn’s side hung on for the four-point win, which sees the Queensland outfit move into third on the Super Rugby Pacific table.
The Rebels stay stuck in the bottom half of the log after only picking up two wins in eight this campaign.
Queensland Reds lead 24-15 over Melbourne Rebels after an end-to-end opening half that saw the teams trade five tries
The Queensland Reds took a comfortable nine-point lead into the shed after scoring three-tries-to two in an end-to-end first half.
O’Connor opened the scoring in the second minute. Hodge, from distance, could not level.
Some magic from O’Connor led to Vest scoring the game’s first try. Hunter Paisami collected O’Connor’s deft grubber kick behind the Rebels’ defence and sucked in two defenders before playing in Vest.
O’Connor converted before To’omua got his side on the scoreboard.
The Reds stopped a counter-attack inside their 22. Fraser McReight pounced at the ruck to win the turnover.
McReight broke through the ruck and raced to halfway before playing Harry Wilson on the sideline.
Wilson charged forward and drew the defender before sending McDermott 55 metres away for the score.
O’Connor’s second conversion made it 17-3 before a late surge by the Rebels caught the Reds knapping.
Suliasi Vunivalu was yellow carded before the half-hour for a high tackle on the landing Hodge. The card kick-started a spell
It may have taken 25 minutes for Foote’s side to score, but they added two tries inside seven minutes at the end of the half.
Hardwick wriggled over from close range after Hodge’s linebreak set up the try.
The 27-year-old fullback almost scored himself but a sublime last-ditch tackle by Paisami stopped him short.
To’omua added the extras, but Creighton scored against the run of play after intercepting Glen Vaihu’s stray pass.
Creighton raced 80 metres down the lefthand sideline to score his maiden Super Rugby try, and O’Connor converted to reopen the two-goal lead.
The Rebels scored 15 unanswered points as they pushed the Reds to the brink before the visitors pulled away
Just before the break, the hosts pulled a score back. Hooker Hanson got up with the ball after the Rebels pushed the Reds pack back over their try line from a driving maul.
To’omua could not convert but his side was back in the game.
Hodge finally landed a long-range penalty before Philip barged through Angus Scott-Young to score under the posts.
The Reds, by now, had conceded 14 turnovers, made 11 handling mistakes and conceded 10 penalties to three.
Twenty-three-year-old Creighton undid his good work with his try by knocking on a grubber inside his 22.
It allowed the Rebels to attack from the scrum close to the opposition’s line. The set-piece ended with Philip’s 64th-minute score.
To’omua’s conversion put Foote’s men in front, but the lead did not last long.
Tupou gathered McDermott’s short, weighted pass before charging through Efi Ma’afu to score.
The flamboyant hooker swallow dived under the posts for his 24th Super Rugby try, and O’Connor added the extras.
A minute after the restart, McReight collected McDermott’s loose no-look, out-the-back-door pass, and raced from his 22 to the halfway line.
The flanker drew the defence before sending a wonderful wide pass to Flook on the sideline to run away untouched in the corner.
The game was not, however, over because Eloff crashed over for his fourth Super Rugby score of the season: It was too little, too late.
Final Score: Melbourne Rebels 32 (15) Queensland Reds 36 (24)
Tries – Hardwick, Hanson, Philip, Eloff
Pen – To’omua, Hodge
Con – To’omua (3)
Tries – Vest, McDermott, Creighton, Tupou, Flook
Pen – O’Connor
Con – O’Connor (4)
Cards – Vunivalu (Yellow, 31′)
Referee: Damon Murphy
Assistant Ref 1: Nic Berry
Assistant Ref 2: Amber McLachlan
TMO: Oli Kellett
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Reece Hodge, 14 George Worth, 13 Andrew Kellaway, 12 Stacey Ili, 11 Glen Vaihu, 10 Matt To’omua, 9 James Tuttle, 8 Tamati Ioane, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Michael Wells (captain), 5 Josh Hill, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Cabous Eloff, 2 James Hanson, 1 Matt Gibbon.
Replacements: 16 Efi Ma’afu, 17 Cameron Orr, 18 Rhys Van Nek, 19 Josh Canham, 20 Brad Wilkin, 21 Sam Wallis, 22 Joe Powell, 23 Carter Gordon.
Queensland Reds: 15 Jordan Petaia, 14 Suliasi Vunivalu, 13 Hunter Paisami, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Filipo Daugunu, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Tate McDermott (captain), 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Connor Vest, 5 Angus Blyth, 4 Ryan Smith, 3 Zane Nonggorr, 2 Richie Asiata, 1 Feao Fotuaika.
Replacements: 16 Matt Faessler, 17 Harry Hoopert, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Lopeti Faifua, 20 Angus Scott-Young, 21 Kalani Thomas, 22 Josh Flook, 23 Lawson Creighton.