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Melbourne Rebels go back-to-back with win over Moana Pasifika

By AAP
Jake Strachan of the Rebels is tackled during the round one Super Rugby Pacific match between Moana Pasifika and Melbourne Rebels at FMG Stadium, on March 08, 2024, in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images)

Melbourne have made it back-to-back Super Rugby Pacific wins, holding on to beat Moana Pasifika 29-23 in Waikato.

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Behind a bruising display from their forward pack, the Rebels withstood a second-half fightback on Friday and pinched the lead on 67 minutes through a Lachie Anderson try.

Andrew Kellaway, who was enormous after shifting from fullback to a wing, iced the contest by putting Lukas Ripley through to score two minutes from time.

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After last weekend’s 48-34 win against the Western Force, any memories of the Rebels’ uncompetitive first-up display against the ACT Brumbies are a thing of the past as they soar up the table in the early rounds.

Riding high from their second-half surge against the Force, Melbourne looked on track for a comfortable win when they raced to an early 19-3 lead.

After shifting to a wing to get fullback Jake Strachan into the lineup, Kellaway only needed five minutes to get on the scoresheet after using his pace to cross off the back of brilliant early field position.

With their pack well on top early, the Rebels went 12-0 ahead thanks to a crafty short-side sneak from halfback Ryan Louwrens, with a brutal Vaiolini Ekuasi run extending the margin after a Moana penalty goal.

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But the longer the contest went, the more the Pasifika outfit found their feet, with legendary All Black Julian Savea instrumental in all that went right for them.

He powered his way close to the line for lock Allan Craig to get Moana’s first try, before scoring himself to claim the record for the most tries in Super Rugby Pacific history.

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Savea, who’s scored 61 career tries, was an off-season addition for Moana after being released by the Hurricanes.

Moana played the last 15 minutes of the contest a player down, with Craig and then Jacob Norris spending time in the sin bin.

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That allowed winger Anderson to burrow over off the back of brilliant maul surge, before Kellaway and Ripley combined to seal it.

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