The Highlanders have won five of their last seven Super Rugby games against the Melbourne Rebels (L2); however, they suffered defeat on the last occasion they travelled to Melbourne (24-19 in March 2019).
The Highlanders will be aiming for back-to-back wins in Super Rugby against the Melbourne Rebels in Australia for the first time in the history of the competition, following their 42-27 win in their most recent such meeting (30 May 2021).
- The Victorians have won only one of their last 13 Super Rugby matches against Kiwi opposition (L12); although, that victory did come against the Highlanders (28-22, 28 February 2020).
- The Landers have won five of their last six Super Rugby matches outside New Zealand (L1), including each of their last two.
- The Rebels have won only two of their last 11 Super Rugby matches at AAMI Park (L9); they have conceded 33 points per game in that span.
- Melbourne has missed 30 tackles per game, seven per game more than any other team in the competition and eight per game more than the Highlanders (22).
- The Highlanders have received only three yellow cards, the joint-fewest of any team (also Chiefs – 3) and three fewer than the Melbourne Rebels (6).
Players to watch
- Folau Fakatava has made 3.3 offloads per 80 minutes, the most of any player in the competition.
- Rob Leota has made 16 tackles per game; only the Crusaders’ Tom Christie (18) has averaged more in the campaign.
We are waiting for the kick-off.
In the meantime, why not have a look at the match preview.
1.00: PEEEP! We are underway for some Sunday footy in Melbourne.
2.00: The Highlanders go nine phases before Ethan de Groot loses possession near the try line, and the Rebels begin an attack.
3.00: TRY! Rory van Vugt’s acrobatic finish opens the scoring after a TMO review for a knee in touch – what a score. 0-5
4.00: CONVERSION! Marty Banks converts from the touchline. 0-7
8.00: NO TRY! Nic Jooste finishes off a sublime counter-attack after Aaron Smith lost the ball near the Highlanders’ try line. The Rebels recycled quickly to the fullback, who cuts inside to score; however, the TMO chalks off the score because James Tuttle lost the ball forward in a previous ruck. 0-7
10.00: The Rebels lose a scrum penalty on their feed, Landers clear the danger. That’s a chance lost.
13.00: The Highlanders have a good attacking opportunity with a lineout, but the ball is lost forward by the Rebels for a scrum to the visitors.
16.00: It’s all Highlanders at the minute.
19.00: The Rebels are under the pump as the Landers increase the pressure inside the 22.
20.00: TRY! Banks’ crossfield kick is caught by Fetuli Paea. the ball is played short to the rampaging Josh Dickson, who breaks Michael Wells’ tackle to score. 0-12
21.00: MISS! The kick comes back off the post. 0-12
23.00: Melbourne sets up an attacking lineout halfway into the opposition’s 22.
24.00: TRY! The Rebels get their rolling maul going. It’s Jordan Uelese who crashes over for his eighth Super Rugby try after the maul splinters. 5-12
25.00: CONVERSION! Matt To’omua adds the extras. 7-12
27.00: The Highlanders look dangerous every time they go through a long series of phases into the Rebels’ territory.
28.00: Jordan Uelese tackles Jermaine Ainsley with an awkward hit in the sternum, and the officials decide not to issue a card, which is the correct call. It’s a penalty only.
29.00: PENALTY! Banks split the uprights. 7-15
32.00: Melbourne concedes a penalty at the ruck while in possession. It allows Banks to boot the Kiwis deep into the Melbourne half. However, Andrew Makalio’s wayward throw gives the hosts a reprieve.
35.00: TRY! Glen Vaihu intercepts Aaron Smith’s loose pass and races half the length of the field to score under the posts. 12-14
36.00: CONVERSION! To’omua adds the extras. 14-15
38.00: Brad wilkin is pinged for not releasing, Banks calls for the tee.
39.00: PENALTY! Banks can’t miss from in front. 14-18
40.00: Melbourne has an attacking scrum just before the break. The hooter sounds…
42.00: Uelese knocks on under no pressure to kickstart a Landers ‘counter-attack from the Kiwis’ 22. The Kiwis go eight phases to the Melbourne try line before losing the ball in contact. Phew!
The halftime score was Melbourne Rebels 14 Highlanders 18
41.00: PEEEP! We are back underway in Victoria, Australia.
43.00: Uelese cannot hang on to the ball, the Rebels had a glorious chance for an early score, but the hooker knocks on again.
46.00: The Rebels have started the second half very well, they just need to protect the ball better.
47.00: Wilkin gives away another needless penalty for picking up James Lentjes above the horizontal and throwing him to the ground. Wilkin is lucky to not get a card.
49.00: Another error from Smith, who loses the ball forward at the ruck.
53.00: TRY! Jooste gets his score after a sublime individual run after a slick backline attack. The fullback collected the ball in the outside channel and beat four defenders before reaching out to score. 19-18
54.00: CONVERSION! The kick is good. 21-18
55.00: A mistake from the restart sees the ball sail into touch for a midfield scrum.
58.00: TRY! To’omua gathered a bouncing ball, and sent a long pass to Lukas Ripley, who fumbled but regathered to score before the ball hit the ground. 26-18
59.00: MISS! The kick is wide. 26-18
61.00: TRY! Folau Fakatava scores to close the gap on the home team after some good work by Marino Mikaele-Tu’u. 26-23
62.00: MISS! The kick is wide. 26-23
66.00: TRY Some poor handling by the hosts sees the Highlanders launch a counter-attack through Fakatava’s linebreak. The scrumhalf raced into the Rebels’ half before finding the support. The ball was recycled quickly to the right where Paea strolled in untouched to give the visitors the lead. 26-28
68.00: CONVERSION! Koroi converts. 26-30
71.00: It’s all Melbourne at the end, they need a score to give them, and the Force, hope.
74.00: TRY! Andrew Kellaway’s strong run put the Rebels on the front foot. Joe Powell, seeing the space behind the three-quarters, grubbered to the chasing Young Tonumaipea, who beat Liam Coombes-Fabling to the bouncing ball to give the hosts a late one-point lead. 31-30
75.00: MISS! To’omu’as kick hits the post and is no good. 31-30
77.00: The Landers launch a counter-attack to midfield, and go through the phases before winning back the ball.
78.00: To’omua intercepts to kickstart an attack to the Kiwis’ 22.
80.00: Melbourne wins a turnover, but the Highlanders claim the ball again before winning a penalty.
81.00: To’omua kicks to touch to win the game; however, the Highlanders still go through to the playoffs because the Kiwis claimed the losing bonus-point.
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The final score is Rebels 31 (14) Highlanders 30 (18)
Tries – Uelese, Vaihu, Jooste, Ripley, Tonumaipea
Con – To’omua (3)
Tries – Van Vugt, Dickson, Fakatava, Paea
Pen – Banks (2)
Con – Banks
Referee: Jordan way
Assistant Ref 1: Nic Berry
Assistant Ref 2: Matt Kellahan
TMO: Oli Kellett
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Nick Jooste, 14 Lukas Ripley, 13 Andrew Kellaway, 12 Matt To’omua, 11 Glen Vaihu, 10 Carter Gordon, 9 James Tuttle, 8 Rob Leota, 7 Brad Wilkin, 6 Michael Wells (captain), 5 Josh Canham, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Pone Fa’amausili, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Matt Gibbon.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Cameron Orr, 18 Cabous Eloff, 19 Ross Haylett-Petty, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Joe Powell, 22 Daniel Maiava, 23 Young Tonumaipea.
Highlanders: 15 Liam Coombes-Fabling, 14 Fetuli Paea, 13 Josh Timu, 12 Thomas Umaga-Jensen, 11 Rory van Vugt, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Aaron Smith (co-captain), 8 Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, 7 Billy Harmon, 6 James Lentjes (co-captain), 5 Josh Dickson, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Andrew Makalio, 1 Ethan de Groot.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Saula Ma’u, 19 Sam Caird, 20 Hugh Renton, 21 Folau Fakatava, 22 Vilimoni Koroi, 23 Denny Solomona.