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Crisis hit Melbourne Rebels receive on-field blow

By AAP
Taniel Tupou of the Rebels reacts during the round one Super Rugby Pacific match between Melbourne Rebels and ACT Brumbies at AAMI Park, on February 23, 2024, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Melbourne’s off-field woes have been reflected in their round one Super Rugby Pacific performance against the ACT Brumbies, crashing to a 30-3 loss.

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With the financially-stricken club in administration and their future in the competition looking increasingly grim, the Rebels players had hoped to put the drama aside in their first home game of the season at AAMI Park on Friday night.

But a small crowd was left disappointed, with the Brumbies easily maintaining their status as Australia’s benchmark side leaving coach Kevin Foote feeling down-beat.

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“It wasn’t our night – we just didn’t finish anything off tonight,” Foote said.

“We went into their 22 13 times for zero outcomes; so disappointed in our completion rate there, very disappointed.”

Foote didn’t want to blame the Rebels’ possible demise as a distraction heading into the game, saying the team had prepared as well as possible.

Fixture
Super Rugby Pacific
Rebels
3 - 30
Full-time
Brumbies
All Stats and Data

“They’re probably feeling they want to do something special, but they don’t have to do that, they just need to trust the system,” he said.

Melbourne had plenty of possession in the first half but let themselves down with loose play and errors while their highly-rated forward pack failed to fire.

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They struggled to give the Rebels’ halves Carter Gordon and England international Jack Maunder front-foot ball and lost three of their own line-outs and a further two in the second half.

Brumbies five-eighth Noah Lolesio, who spent the off-season playing with French side Toulon, out-shone Carter in their head-to-head battle, with Melbourne’s World Cup No.10 out of sorts.

In a scrappy showing from both sides, the Brumbies raced to a 17-3 halftime lead with speedster Corey Toole crossing twice.

New Rebels recruit Filipo Daugunu was given a spell in the 26th minute for a dangerous tackle on Brumbies flanker Luke Reimer, while an off-side Brumbies centre Len Ikitau was also given a yellow card after repeated team warnings.

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22m Entries

Avg. Points Scored
0.1
17
Entries
Avg. Points Scored
4.8
5
Entries

While neither side capitalised on their one-man advantage, the Brumbies were able to push the lead out to 25-3 in the 53rd minute through No.8 Charlie Cale.

Melbourne’s night looked to have grown still worse when star signing Taniela Tupou went down with a hand injury, but the prop managed to recover and play out the match.

Rebels skipper Rob Leota looked to have scored a season-opening try for his team but it was denied after the Television Match Official picked up that Vaiolini Ekuasi had impeded the Brumbies defence. 

Cale then grabbed his second try, lurking on the wing as the ACT stretched the Rebels’ defence to seal an impressive win.

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham was pleased with the result and performance, given it was the opening round, particularly their line-out.

He said the penalty count, with his team pinged 20 times, needed improvement.

“The boys have been training well for a long time now and we had a good combination out on the field, so we were expecting to do well, but you never really know,” Larkham said

“We got a lot of things right tonight – it’s a good start.”

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