The Melbourne Rebels fought off a resilient Reds 30-24 in a tight Australian Conference derby at AAMI Park, Melbourne.
Tries from Marika Koroibete, Anura Rangi, Tetera Faulkner and Dane Haylett-Petty keep Melbourne top of the Australian Conference.
Every time the Reds reduced the deficit, the Rebels hit back, the visitors could not keep up.
Queensland took their chances in the first half, but they were few and far between throughout the match.
Bryce Hegarty did manage a penalty after the hooter to give his team a losing bonus-point.
It is scant consolation for a team who has become a ‘gimme’ on the road in the competition.
The victory means the Reds have only won once in their previous 12 Australian derbies away from Brisbane.
Dave Wessels’ side has now won four from five Super Rugby derbies at home to the Sunshine State franchise, and they sit top of the Australian conference.
Super Rugby Video Highlights: Melbourne Rebels versus Reds, Round 13, AAMI Park, Melbourne
Referee Angus Gardner, who handed out seven cards last week, including two reds, was at it again.
Mr Gardner yellow-carded two Queensland players, and rightly so, too.
Scott Higginbotham, who has been red-carded in this fixture before, was sent to the naughty step again.
Reds captain Samu Kerevi didn’t cover himself in glory.
His leadership was rudderless, also receiving a yellow card for foul play as the penalties mounted against his men.
Hegarty kept his side in the game with three penalties and a conversion, but his team needed tries of which they only scored two.
Isaac Lucas and Harry Hoopert crossed for Brad Thorn’s side, but they could not stop the bleeding. Hegarty’s boot would not be enough.
Tetera Faulkner and Dane Haylett-Petty crossed the whitewash after two sublime attacks blew away the Reds’ scramble defence.
Reece Hodge landed two penalties after Quade Cooper did not return after failing an HIA in the second half, which kept Melbourne ahead and in control.
Rebels dominate, but Reds take their chances as they stay in contention
Will Genia and Quade Cooper equalled the second highest Super Rugby halfback pairing with 80 games.
One more start and they will pass George Gregan and Stephen Larkham.
Wessels’ side had all the ball and all the territory, but they could not shake off the visitors.
The Rebels took a slender 14-11 halftime lead after tries from Koroibete and Rangi.
Hegarty kicked two penalties to keep the visitors in the hunt.
Lucas scored a well-worked first Super Rugby try to reduce the deficit before the break.
The 20-year-old combined with Tupou down the touchline before running in his side’s first try.
The Reds needed some magic and the boy delivered.
It was a wonderful weaving run behind the defensive line that led to Tupou’s offload putting Lucas away.
Melbourne strike twice after halftime
However, the Rebels upped the ante with two more tries after the break to put the game away for their fourth Super Rugby win at home in five.
Faulkner struck four minutes after the restart.
His try was a culmination of skill and invention, and it undid all the Reds’ good work before the break
The try came from first-phase possession off a scrum inside the Melbourne half.
Billy Meakes put Hodge through a gap. The centre combined with Genia and the prop dived over in the corner.
Haylett-Petty finished off six minutes later.
Hodge was again involved, making the break that led to the score. The Reds were reeling.
Both tries came while Higginbotham was in the bin; there was no way back. Then Cooper left the field.
It provided a response, though.
Hoopert flopped over the chalk after a powerful driving maul, and Hegarty’s conversion brought the scores within six.
Hodge kicked his first penalty to make it a two-score game with 20 minutes to play.
Tupou thought he had a second, soon afterwards, but he was held-up under the posts by Genia and Matt Gibbon.
Melbourne won the following scrum, which allowed them to clear the danger.
Matt Philip was caught offsides, the third penalty against the Rebels in quick succession which led to Hegarty making it 27-21.
Hodge put the game to bed before the Reds’ flyhalf landed a late bonus-point penalty.
Final Score: Rebels 30 (14) Reds 21 (11)
Tries – Koroibete, Rangi, Faulkner, D. Haylett-Petty
Pen – Hodge (2)
Con – Cooper (2)
Tries – Lucas, Hoopert
Pen – Hegarty (4)
Con – Hegarty
Cards – Kerevi (Yellow, 16′), Higginbotham (Yellow, 41′)
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant Ref 1: Damon Murphy
Assistant Ref 2: Graham Cooper
TMO: George Ayoub
15 Dane Haylett-Petty (captain), 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Angus Cottrell, 6 Luke Jones, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Tetera Faulkner.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Pone Fa’amausili, 20 Rob Leota, 21 Richard Hardwick, 22 Michael Ruru, 23 Campbell Magnay.
15 Hamish Stewart, 14 Jock Campbell, 13 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 12 Samu Kerevi (captain), 11 Sefa Naivalu, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Liam Wright, 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Angus Blyth, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Alex Mafi, 1 JP Smith.
Replacements: 16 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 17 Harry Hoopert, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 20 Caleb Timu, 21 Moses Sorovi, 22 Duncan Paia’aua, 23 Isaac Lucas.