Super Rugby

Rebels repel late Fijian Drua fightback

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Melbourne Rebels beat Fijian Drua 42-27 to register their first 2022 Super Rugby Pacific win at AAMI Park, Melbourne.

Matt Philip, Jordan Uelese, Raymond Nu’u, Cabous Eloff, and Cameron Orr all scored for the Melbourne Rebels to give Kevin Foote’s beleaguered side a much-needed Super Rugby Pacific win.

Matt To’omua kicked three penalties and four conversions for a haul of 17 points.

The South Sea Islanders scored three times in the last quarter to rock the home team and their supporters.

Kitione Salawa, Tevita Ikanivere, and Kalaveti Ravouvou all dotted down in a thrilling display of counter-attacking rugby.

Teti Tela kicked two penalties and three conversions for 12 points as the Fijians slumped to another defeat.

The Rebels, however, gained revenge for their 31-26 defeat against Fijian Drua in round three of this year’s tournament.

Foote’s side also allayed a dismal 10-match losing streak going back to Super Rugby AU. It is also the first positive result in seven games versus non-Australian opposition.

The Rebels took a comfortable two tries to nil 21-6 lead into the sheds at the break

Philip and Uelese both crossed, while To’omua’s boot kept the scoreboard ticking from the tee.

Drua only had two Tela goals to show for the off-colour Fijians at the half.

Nu’u beat several defenders to increase the home team’s lead nine minutes after halftime.

A nine-phase attack ended when Philip reached out to score from a pick-and-go to open the scoring on six minutes.

To’omua could not convert but the 32-year-old standoff did land two penalties before Uelese peeled off a rolling maul to make it 18-nil just after the half-hour mark.

Tela added two penalties when kicking to the corner.

Had the Fijian’s handling not been so poor, captain Nemani Nagusa might have opted for attacking lineouts instead of the points.

To’omua landed another goal on the stroke of halftime to open up a 15-point lead.

The second stanza explodes into life with six tries apiece after a see-sawing third quarter in Victoria

Nu’u scored a converted try to kill the game as a contest. The 23-year-old scored from first phase off a lineout after dancing through several tackles to increase his side’s lead.

To’omua added the extras.

A dire second-half burst into life after Reece Hodge’s 67th-minute yellow card opened up the game.

Fijian Drua outscored Melbourne 21-14 in 13 manic minutes.

Salawa, Ikanivere, and Ravouvou’s tries saw the visitors claw back a 28-6 deficit to make it 35-27 at the death.

A 16-phase attack ended with another penalty to the visitors. Instead of going to the corner, this time they took a quick-tap to Salawa, who barged through poor tackling to score.

Eloff crashed over soon afterwards, but the opposition struck again.

Ikanivere, who was immense since coming on, scored with a swan-dive in the corner.

Tela again converted from the corner, but the officials missed a dubious forward pass in the build-up.

With three to play, the Fijians scored one of the tries of the season when Ravouvou dotted down under the posts.

The score came from a stunning counter-attacking that went 85 metres and through several pairs of hands before the centre flopped over.

Tela took the kick quickly, but Orr bashed his way under the posts before the hooter to end an astonishing final quarter.

Final Score: Melbourne Rebels 42 (21) Fijian Drua 27 (6)

Scorers

Melbourne Rebels
Tries – Philip, Uelese, Nu’u, Eloff, Orr
Pen – To’omua (3)
Con – To’omua (4)
Drop –
Cards – Hodge (Yellow, 67′)

Fijian Drua
Tries – Salawa, Ikanivere, Ravouvou
Pen – Tela (2)
Con – Tela (3)
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: 
Jordan Way
Assistant Ref 1: Reuben Keane
Assistant Ref 2: Amber McLachlan
TMO: Oli Kellett

Teams

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 Hill, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Cabous Eloff, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Matt Gibbon

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

Fijian Drua: 15 Kitione Ratu, 14 Selestino Ravutaumada, 13 Apisalome Vota, 12 Kalaveti Ravouvou, 11 Vinaya Habosi, 10 Teti Tela, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Nemani Nagusa (captain), 7 Vilive Miramira, 6 Joseva Tamani, 5 Te Ahiwaru Cirikidaveta, 4 Sorovakatini Tuifagalele, 3 Kaliopasi Uluilakepa, 2 Zuriel Togiatama, 1 Jone Koroiduadua

Replacements:
16 Tevita Ikanivere, 17 Haereiti Hetet, 18 Samuela Tawake, 19 Viliame Rarasea, 20 Kitione Salawa, 21 Peni Matawalu, 22 Caleb Muntz, 23 Jona Mataiciwa

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