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Drua blast Rebels off the park with try blitz in Fiji

By AAP
Selestino Ravutaumada. (Photo by Pita Simpson/Getty Images)

Melbourne have been blasted off the park in a frantic opening 40 minutes, falling to Fijian Drua 38-28 in their Super Rugby Pacific clash in Suva.

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The Rebels’ mantra of playing “fast and fearless” was thrown back in their face by a rampant home side who ran in five tries in 28 minutes to lead 33-7 by halftime with the scoreboard spinning faster than the clock.

The tries were shared across five players, with the offload game of blindside flanker Vilive Miramira, who grabbed their third, causing havoc for the visitors.

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In front of a raucous home crowd at HFC Stadium they posed threats across the park with the Rebels constantly back-peddling.

It was the Drua’s second home win, also claiming the scalp of the powerhouse Crusaders in Nadi in round three.

“Fiji Drua just got out to a really hot start,” Rebels skipper Brad Wilkin told Stan Sport.

“We knew they would but we just didn’t aim up in the contact zone and we allowed them to play the rugby that they want to play.”

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Melbourne stunningly had 61 per cent of territory in the first half and also dominated possession but only had one try to show for it, with hooker Alex Mafi burrowing across in the 21st minute.

Rebels coach Kevin Foote rang the changes early, bringing Wallabies back Andrew Kellaway into the match after halftime for his first match of the season due to a foot injury.

Kellaway made an immediate impact, scoring in the 41st minute, while he was confident in using his kicking game to improve Melbourne’s field position.

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Some heat went out of the home side’s game while the Rebels, coming off a gritty win over Queensland, started to find their groove.

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But the Drua continued to make the most of their opportunities.

Realising the Rebels had no one at fullback, No.9 Peni Matawalu chipped over the defensive line with former Sevens star Elia Canakaivata able to gather up the ball and crash over the line.

Although a win was out of reach, Melbourne improved the scoreline with two further tries to at least take the second half.

Young Melbourne playmaker Carter Gordon ran on to a Wilkin pass to cross in the 65th minute while World Cup hopeful Pone Fa’amausili rolled over with two minutes remaining.

The Rebels host the Blues in Melbourne next Saturday and Wilkin said they would need to heed lessons from this defeat.

“The Blues are a little bit similar. They’re very good at unstructured play as well so we’ve just got to tighten things up, especially around our defence and our breakdown work,” the flanker said.

“We’ve got to move on quickly. It’s a very tough trip to come over here and play in front of this electrifying crowd so we’ve going to have to front up and go again next week.”

– Melissa Woods

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