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Rebels desperate to snap losing run against Reds in bid to play finals

Rebels players celebrate after Filipo Daugunu of the Rebels scores a try during the round seven Super Rugby Pacific match between Melbourne Rebels and Fijian Drua at AAMI Park, on April 05, 2024, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

While Melbourne’s future remains in doubt off the field, the Rebels are desperate to snap their losing streak to ensure they play Super Rugby Pacific finals for the first time.


The Rebels have lost their last two matches, and on Friday night at Suncorp Stadium will face a fired-up Queensland who have been buoyed by a rare victory over the Crusaders in Christchurch last round.

Melbourne are sitting in sixth place, one behind the Reds, but have a torrid run home against the Chiefs (4th), Brumbies (3rd) and an always-challenging away clash with Fiji (8th).

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They have lost to the Reds in seven of their past eight meetings but did secure a six-point victory last year in Melbourne.

Young Rebels lock Josh Canham said his team would approach Queensland with confidence after a strong showing against the highly rated Blues last time out until a late blow-out.

“Right now we’re taking it one game at a time, so all our focus now is on the Reds and winning this game – if we do that we’re in good stead for finals,” Canham said.

The lineout has been a weapon for both teams, with Reds co-captain Liam Wright taking the most in the competition, followed by Canham.


“They’re pretty skilful, they’re good over the ball and they’ve got a good lineout,” Canham said.

“If we put their lineout under pressure this week and get our contact areas right it should be a good game for us.”


Last 5 Meetings

Average Points scored
First try wins
Home team wins

Canham had the best game of his career against the Blues and credited former Red Lukhan Salakaia-Loto for setting the standard at the Rebels this season.

Taniela Tupou, Alex Mafi and Sam Talakai have all joined Salakaia-Loto in shifting from Queensland to the Rebels.

Salakaia-Loto, a strong chance for a Wallabies recall, will miss the match following foot surgery.


“He leads by example while he’s playing and doesn’t take a backward step,” 23-year-old Canham said.

“He’s still giving us input since he’s been injured and we listen to him where we can.

“Missing him has given me a chance to get more involved … to try and fill his shoes.”

The decision from Rugby Australia on the future of the debt-ridden Rebels continues to drag on but Melbourne product Canham hoped the club could continue beyond this season, to give other Victorian players a team to aspire to play for.

He said current Rebels including skipper Rob Leota and hooker Jordan Uelese had made an impact as he was growing up and playing local rugby.

“They set the standard for me for me coming through,” he said.

“For boys coming through now, they won’t have that if there’s no Rebels next year.

“Hopefully it can be sorted out because there’s a lot of talent coming through in Melbourne.”

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Wonton 6 hours ago
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One game against Fiji is not enough to show that a player is ready to play the likes of South Africa. Spreading the ball wide too much increases the risk of turnovers and we turned the ball over 20 times against Fiji which is a lot more than what we did in the two England tests. We actually turned the ball over the same amount of times (20) against England in the 2019 semi final which we lost. Fiji didn’t make us pay for those turnovers but other teams will. In the 2nd test against England this year we had 100% success rate on attacking rucks. That’s the first time the AB’s have achieved this since the 2019 opening game of the RWC against South Africa. South Africa won last years RWC and Jesse Kriel did not pass once. The days of the Conrad Smith type centre might be over. Also Conrad Smith debuted in 2004 but he did not become an incumbent until Nonu did also in 2008. As for Rieko Ioane he and Jordie Barrett put in some very strong midfield hits in the 2nd test forcing turnovers several times. Rieko Ioane hasn’t played wing in years. If Proctor is moved to 13 then the best I think Ioane can hope for is an impact player off the bench. He does not have the aerial game of Caleb Clarke or the workrate of Tele’a for 11 and going to be selected over Jordan at 14. However its much too early to replace Rieko with Proctor. Rieko was excellent in the knock out rounds of the RWC. All Proctor has to show on his test CV is a good game against Fiji.

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Nick 7 hours ago
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Its almost like you read my comment on the other site on sunday morning Nick - you flagged all the same examples! 😝 Frost was motm for mine. That eg in the 56th minute in particular impressed me, nothing but sheer effort and a dupont/smith-like tracking line behind the D. Surely an effort like that from frost marries perfectly with that quote from schmidt at the start of the year about effort and work rate being 70-80% and talent is just the icing on top… What it also showed though was the players not making that effort, in that example he goes past both valetini and ikitau, and in the eg that finished with valetini scoring hunter paisami barely breaks a canter to support the break. And then there was the chase from wright and lancaster for the 2nd georgian try! One blemish - at kickoff I saw frost miss or get bumped off a few tackles and I felt like I saw what has been holding his selection back. I think because he is so big and is trying to get low to tackle, he seems to dip his head and ends up losing his balance or ability to adjust and ends up missing or making a soft hit. I think in the first 2 minutes he misses or makes 2-3 soft tackles, but you could clearly see the work rate and desire! He (the pod) also missed a kick restart or two? Also very happy to see harry wilson back in the fold. What impressed me from him wasn’t all the usual stuff he is known for, but all the other bits that usually let him down. He looked surprisingly good in the air at lineout time, physical at the breakdown, and good in the maul peeling off 3 georgians for one of the maul tries. Id have frost, skelton, wright as my 4-6 with LSL and wilson on the bench. i’m once again unconvinced by tom wirght - he was very good game 1, but game 2-3 he was back to more rocks than diamonds. There is no real other player to usurp him really so he stays in the team for now but I think Joe should put kellaway wherever he serves the team best and wright can be moved around him. Did donno do enough to overtake noah? My gut says no. They clearly had a plan to attack more so he looked better in that regard because he just had more opportunity, but they looked better off tate (who had a v good game also) then they did off donno.

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