The Melbourne Rebels proved there’s no place like home with a thumping 33-14 victory over the woeful NSW Waratahs in their first Super Rugby AU match at AAMI Park in more than a year.
Melbourne playmaker Matt Toomua was all class as he steered his team to their biggest ever victory over NSW, who remain winless in the competition after five rounds.
While there was plenty to like about the hosts’ performance, the worrying signs continue for the Waratahs, who were well beaten at the breakdown while their errors and penalty count proved costly.
The Rebels set up the record win in a memorable first half, which included two special tries.
Winger Lachie Anderson collected the spoils in the 12th minute, with the first-phase try coming off a line-out 55 metres out.
The ball was worked through eight sets of hands, with centre Stacey Ili racing downfield before holding it up for fullback Tom Pincus, who found Anderson.
Toomua, who also added 13 points with his boot before being given an early night, crossed the line in a brilliant individual effort.
The Wallabies No.10 threw a giant dummy and glided through the Waratahs defence before chipping ahead, with the ball bouncing sweetly back into his arms for him to dive over.
. @mtoomua invokes the spirit of 'turn of the century Carlos Spencer'
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 19, 2021
His conversion put the home side out to 23-0 halftime lead.
The forwards got some pay for a dominant performance midway through the second half when replacement hooker Jordan Uelese joined a maul off the line-out and rumbled over with little resistance.
The Waratahs scored their first points in the 77th minute with a well-crafted try, scored by replacement Jeremy Williams, and then winger Jack Maddocks crossed after the final siren but it did little to take the sting out of the loss.
“It was pretty special,” said inside centre Reece Hodge after the game. “Hopefully our fans can be proud of us. Bit of a shame with the finish but it’s great to be back.”
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