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Damian McKenzie breaks Rebels' hearts in possible farewell home match

Angelo Smith and Tuaina Taii Tualima of the Rebels look on after the Rebels were defeated by the Chiefs during the round 13 Super Rugby Pacific match between Melbourne Rebels and Chiefs at AAMI Park, on May 17, 2024, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Melbourne’s last Super Rugby Pacific home game – potentially ever – has ended on a heartbreaking note with the Rebels falling to the Chiefs 26-23.


Star Chiefs playmaker Damian McKenzie slotted a penalty in the 78th minute to split a 23-all deadlock to secure the win.

The Rebels welcomed their largest crowd of the season to AAMI Park for the Friday night match with their future in the competition in major doubt.

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Rugby Australia are still to decide whether to shutter the financially-stricken club, whose fans turned out in force to honour the side.

In traditional Melbourne fashion, the team ran through a banner that read: “Thank you Melbourne, Always Rebels, Always Fighting”.

Match Summary

Penalty Goals
Drop Goals
Line Breaks
Turnovers Lost
Turnovers Won

The crowd were encouraged to stand and cheer at the 14th minute of the match to celebrate the 14 seasons the club has been in the competition.

After an early Chiefs penalty goal, they got off to a strong start with young winger Glen Vaihu crossing in the sixth minute.


The teams traded points in the first half, with the visitors having the final say as McKenzie nailed a 41st minute penalty goal for a 13-11 lead into the break.

Sitting fourth on the ladder, two spots above Melbourne, the Chiefs extended their advantage five minutes into the second half through hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho.

The Chiefs lost lock Tupou Vaa’i to a yellow card for an incidental head knock on Rebels five-eighth Carter Gordon, who also left the field temporarily but was cleared in his HIA.

The visitors extended the lead to 23-11 through another McKenzie penalty before Melbourne got back into the contest when winger Lachie Anderson scored in the 56th minute.


He added his second in the 73rd minute to set up a grandstand finish, locking the scoreboard up at 23-all until McKenzie’s killer blow from a breakdown penalty.

Despite their fourth straight loss the Rebels’ season isn’t over. They still have a chance to make their first finals appearance, with a bonus point from this match likely to prove crucial.

However, they face tough away games against the ACT Brumbies and Fijian Drua to secure their spot.



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Flankly 10 hours ago
Resilient Irish will test Springboks despite provincial setbacks

The Bok kryptonite is complacency. How did they lose to Japan in 2015, or to Italy in 2016? There are plenty of less dramatic examples. They often boil down to the Boks dialing back their focus and intensity, presuming they can win with less than 100% commitment. This can be true of most teams, but there is a reason that the Boks are prone to it. It boils down to the Bok game plan being predicated on intensity. The game plan works because of the relentless and suffocating pressure that they apply. They don’t allow the opponent to control the game, and they pounce on any mistake. It works fantastically, but it is extremely demanding on the Bok players to pull it off. And the problem is that it stops working if you execute at anything less than full throttle. Complacency kills the Boks because it can lead to them playing at 97% and getting embarrassed. So the Bulls/Leinster result is dangerous. It’s exactly what is needed to introduce that hint of over-confidence. Rassie needs to remind the team of the RWC pool game, and of the fact that Ireland have won 8 of the 12 games between the teams in the last 20 years. And of course the Leinster result also means that Ireland have a point to prove. Comments like “a club team beating a test team” will be pasted on the changing room walls. They will be out to prove that the result of the RWC game truly reflects the pecking order between the teams. The Boks can win these games, but, as always, they need to avoid the kryptonite.

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