Melbourne Rebels have revived their finals hopes with a historic 29-10 Super Rugby AU win over the NSW Waratahs in Sydney. In a scrappy affair punctuated by 26 penalties and endless knock-ons, the Rebels claimed their first victory of the new competition thanks largely to the class and boot of five-eighth Matt Toomua.

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Toomua slotted five penalty goals and two conversions for a 19-point haul as the Rebels, despite being homeless due to Victoria’s coronavirus outbreak, completed their first season double over NSW.

Dave Wessels’ men also trumped the Tahs 24-10 before the suspension of Super Rugby proper in March. Friday night’s triumph marks the first time in the franchise’s ten-year existence they have toppled their NSW rivals twice in a season. But the milestone victory at the SCG was anything but pretty.

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The Rebels, who lost captain Dane Haylett-Petty to a first-half knee injury, butchered a series of try-scoring opportunities before Marika Koroibete finally sealed the win four minutes from full-time.

With the exception of Alex Newsome’s seventh-minute try, a 25-metre intercept effort off an errant Reece Hodge pass, the Waratahs never looked like scoring. Four Toomua penalties kept the visitors in the first half before the Rebels extended their lead to a handy nine points in the shadows of half-time.

With the Waratahs down to 14 men after Wallabies captain Michael Hooper was yellow-carded for a second offside offence, Rebels half-back Ryan Louwrens crashed over from the scrum base and Toomua converted to make it 19-10 at the break.

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It wasn’t until half an hour into the second stanza that the next points came and, typically, they came again from Toomua as the Waratahs’ ill-discipline continued to cost them. All up, they conceded 17 penalties.

One of the few positives for the Waratahs was the long-awaited return of half-back Jake Gordon. In his first game back since the Covid outbreak, Gordon was introduced early in the second half and made a successful return from a nagging hamstring injury.

But there was little else for coach Rob Penney to enthuse about as the Tahs took a backward step after last week’s spirited showing against the Brumbies. Waratahs skipper Rob Simmons lasted only 47 minutes before being replaced due to a leg injury, while even Hooper had an uncharacteristic off night.

Fellow Wallabies forward Jed Holloway lasted a minute after being thrown into the fray late before also being sin-binned for deliberate offside.

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NSW WARATAHS 10 (Newsome try; Harrison con pen)

REBELS 29 (Koroibete, Louwrens tries; To’omua 2 cons 5 pens)

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