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Rebels hoping the 'ultimate team man' can deliver victory over Drua in revenge match

By AAP
(Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

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Despite making progress last round, the Melbourne Rebels are far from satisfied as a first Super Rugby Pacific win proves elusive.

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Melbourne host the Fijian Drua at AAMI Park on Friday, with the game presenting as a prime opportunity for a breakthrough as the newcomers’ sole victory in the opening five rounds came against the Rebels in round three.

Then Melbourne blew a 14-0 lead and failed to take advantage of a Drua yellow card, with the Fijians scoring three long-range tries either side of halftime plus a slew of penalties to earn a 31-26 win.

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Last round the Rebels improved but suffered a five-point loss to the NSW Waratahs in Sydney, and winger Andrew Kellaway said they wouldn’t be happy until they got a victory.

“It’s important to note it was an improvement, we definitely got better there and for the first time since the Drua game we were in with a chance to win the game,” Kellaway said on Thursday.

“It’s important to take the positives out of that but it’s still another loss.

“We’re still not where we want to be.”

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Among eight changes, 19-year-old Victorian-born lock Daniel Maiava has been named to make his debut from the Rebels bench.

James Tuttle has relegated starting halfback Joe Powell to the bench.

Lock Matt Philip said he thought Tuttle’s game style would suit Melbourne’s plans to counter the Drua.

“I’m pretty excited to play with ‘Bobby’ – he’s a pretty special guy and a lot of people say he’s the ultimate team man, ” the Wallabies forward said.

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“He’s got great game management skill behind him and that’s what we need tomorrow night – someone who’s going to help steer the ship, play the right parts of the field and play the style of rugby that’s going to help us win and not suit them as much, I guess.”

Philip said the Rebels needed to control of the game and play it at their preferred tempo rather than let the Fijians play unstructured rugby, where they flourished.

“For large parts of that last game against them we did do that but as soon as we started to not execute things, drop a few balls or just take the full throttle for a little bit, they scored,” Phillip said.

“They’re a pretty good team to watch but not as fun to play against.”

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