Super Rugby

Terrific To’omua stars as Rebels down Waratahs




The Melbourne Rebels beat the NSW Waratahs 33-14 after a one-sided Super Rugby AU Round Five clash at AAMI Park, Melbourne.

The Rebels’ third win in their last four Super Rugby matches against the Waratahs –– after winning two of the previous 17 –– was straight-forward.

Melbourne led 33-0 up until the 77th-minute before two late New South Wales tries took the gloss off a comfortable win. In truth, the game was over before the interval.

Matt To’omua thrilled the eager home crowd on the Rebels’ return home for the first time in 377 days after playing all their Super Rugby AU matches away from the city because of Covid-19.

To’omua schooled the visitors, scoring a stunning solo try to go with his flawless kicking display from the tee –– notching 18 points –– in a 51-minute virtuoso at first receiver in ‘The Education State’.

Dave Wessels’ side had too much for the woeful Waratahs, who cannot seem to get out of their own way. Wessels’ side led by a record 23-0 at the break.

It is the biggest halftime lead by a Melbourne Rebels team against any side since they entered Super Rugby 10 years ago, and the first time since 2018 that the Sydney side had been kept scoreless at the break.

Lachlan Anderson and To’omua both crossed, while the 31-year-old standoff kicked three penalties and two conversions as the home team ran away with the game.

Super Rugby AU Round 5 Video Highlights: Melbourne Rebels v NSW Waratahs at AAMI Park, Melbourne

Reece Hodge, who had a hand in Anderson’s score, added a second-half penalty and converted Jordan Uelese’s 67th-minute try in another superb performance for Wessels’ side.

The Tahs, however, fought back after a disjointed second-half performance by the Rebels, outscoring their hosts 14 points to 10.

Jeremy Williams scored with two minutes remaining to avoid total humiliation, while also taking away the bonus-point for their hosts. Jack Maddocks crossed after the hooter to give the Sydney men something if nothing tangible.

The comfortable win does not move the Rebels up the Super Rugby AU standings; however, the victory moves the Victorian franchise closer to the Brumbies and Queensland Reds.

Rebels punish profligate Waratahs as ill-discipline costs the visitors in the first stanza

This abject defeat sees the Tahs remain winless and rooted to the foot of the table. Rob Penney’s men dominated the first half stats but not the most important ones: the scoreboard.

They had the better of possession (53%) and territory (58%), won more rucks and turnovers, but their lineouts were poor, losing three of eight and they conceded more than double the number of penalties to their hosts.

Richard Hardwick caused havoc at the breakdown, winning two first-half penalties while slowing down the visitor’s quick ball. To’omua opened the scoring with an early penalty.

Moments later, Mark Nawaqanitawase found himself isolated after running away from support. Hardwick won the penalty that saw Hodge boot his side to the corner.

The Rebels went to their driving maul, but after being held-up over the line, the TMO confirmed referee Nic Berry’s on-field call.

The warnings signs, however, were there and the home team was chipping away.

On 13 minutes, the Rebels blew the doors off. A slick first-phase attack from a lineout on the halfway line, saw Anderson take Tom Pincus’ deft offload to get the game’s first try.

Wrecking ball Pone Faamausili’s swivel move in midfield set Hodge away. The 26-year-old utility back took the ball to the gain-line before releasing Stacey Ili.

Ili ghosted through a gap and raced into the 22. He drew the defenders before popping to Pincus, in support.

The fullback gathered the quick offload before shipping an inside pass of his own to put the Anderson away. To’omua added the extras.

At 10-0 down inside the opening quarter, the Tahs opted for a shot at goal. It was, subsequently, missed by stand-in goal-kicker Maddocks, who shanked the straight-forward kick.

Mistakes and ill-discipline continue to hamper New South Wales

A third sustained Waratahs attack ended with another turnover. Joshua Kemeny got over the ball and won the penalty near the Melbourne try line after a series of pick-and-drives ended –– again –– in disaster.

To’omua increased his side’s advantage with two penalties in eight minutes to make it 16-0 with five to play in the half.

Two more attacks ended in turnovers, one a Jack Grant knock-on, the other, an overthrown lineout by David Porecki.

The hooker’s error saw the Rebels counter-attack from deep inside their half to the NSW 22, winning a penalty that To’omua accepted.

To’omua ended the game as a contest after a brilliant piece of individual skill before the break. The standoff sold an audacious dummy near the halfway line and raced through a huge hole in the Waratahs midfield.

James Ramm flew up to stop To’omua, but the flyhalf chipped the eager winger He gathered the bouncing ball and fended off Jack Grant in the corner.

The ball had taken a wicked bounce in front of the covering Nawaqanitawase, who had no chance, allowing the To’omua to collect and score. Simply stunning and an early contender for Try of the Year.

The converted try gave the hosts a record halftime Super Rugby lead, which also proved to be unassailable.

Wessels’ early second-half substitutions disrupt his side’s momentum as the game disintegrated

The second stanza fell apart as both teams’ errors made for drab viewing. Hodge, taking over from the rested To’omua, added a 56th-minute penalty.

Melbourne’s driving maul had not worked in the first half, but it did in the second when Uelese crashed over the chalk after a powerful driving maul with less than 13 minutes to play.

Alex Newsome and his charges did not give up; instead, they salvaged a little pride with two goals at the end. There is no respite for Penney’s beleaguered outfit, but excuses are thin on the ground.

Wessels’ side, on the other hand, will be disappointed they gave up their bonus-point. The win, however, sees the Rebels move to within five points of the table-topping Brumbies, and three points behind the Reds, who play the Western Force.

Final Score: Rebels 33 (23) Waratahs 14 (0)


Tries – Anderson, To’omua, Uelese
Pen – To’omua (3), Hodge
Con – To’omua (2), Hodge
Drop –
Cards –

Tries – Williams, Maddocks
Pen –
Con – Edmed (2)
Drop –
Cards –


Match Officials
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant Ref 1: Amy Perrett
Assistant Ref 2: Graham Cooper
TMO: Brett Cronan


Melbourne Rebels

15 Tom Pincus, 14 Lachlan Anderson, 13 Stacey Ili, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Matt To’omua (captain), 9 Joe Powell, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Joshua Kemeny, 5 Trevor Hosea, 4 Steve Cummins, 3 Pone Faamausili, 2 James Hanson, 1 Cabous Eloff

Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Lucio Sordoni, 19 Tom Nowlan, 20 Robert Leota, 21 James Tuttle, 22 Glen Vaihu, 23 Frank Lomani


15 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Alex Newsome (captain), 12 Tepai Moeroa, 11 James Ramm, 10 Will Harrison, 9 Jack Grant, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Carlo Tizzano, 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Sam Caird, 4 Hugh Sinclair, 3 Te Tera Faulkner, 2 David Porecki, 1 Harry Johnson-Holmes

16 Tom Horton, 17 George Francis, 18 Darcy Breen, 19 Sam Wykes, 20 Jeremy Williams, 21 Henry Robertson, 22 Tane Edmed, 23 Lalakai Foketi

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