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Rebels lock in Aussie Super Saturday

By AAP
Pasifika's Danny Toala (C) is tackled by Rebels' Glen Vaihu (L) and Stacey Ili (R) during the Super Rugby match between the Melbourne Rebels and Moana Pasifika in Melbourne (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)

The Melbourne Rebels have made it a Super Saturday for Australian teams, backing up the NSW Waratahs’ shock win with a 26-22 victory over Moana Pasifika.

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The Waratahs upset the Crusaders 24-21 in Sydney in the early game before the Rebels held on for their own Super Rugby Pacific win over the competition newcomers at AAMI Park.

A try in the 77th minute by winger Timoci Tavatavanawai set up a thrilling finish although the conversion by Christian Lealiifano was off target.

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The Rebels then had centre Ray Nu’u sent off in the final minute for a high shot on Lealiifano, but Lincoln McClutchie failed to find touch, robbing his team of a final attempt to score a match-winning try.

The lead changed four times through the match with Melbourne managing to stay in front from the 53rd minute, when fullback Reece Hodge glided through a gap in the defence.

With six minutes remaining five-eighth Carter Gordon stalled a fightback when he stopped a certain try by knocking the ball from the hands of McClutchie as he dived over the line.

Moana Pasifika’s first match on Australian soil was postponed last round with Western Force unable to field a side due to COVID-19.

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Their first points came through flanker Alamanda Motuga after they used an attacking line-out to drive the ball across the line in the 10th minute.

Rebels hooker James Hanson countered, scoring twice off the same play, with a late penalty strike by Lealiifano closing to trail 14-10 at halftime.

Moana Pasifika’s pressure on Melbourne reaped a reward in the 49th minute through prop Abraham Pole to regain the lead until Hodge’s five-pointer.

Wallabies winger Andrew Kellaway then broke a seven-game drought with a try against the run of play to give the hosts more breathing room.

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Rebels coach Kevin Foote will be disappointed with Nu’a’s red card, with the centre only returning this match from a two-match ban.

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Jon 5 hours ago
Why Scott Robertson may need to ease big names aside for All Blacks' flexibility

> it was apparent Robertson was worried about his lack of experience at half-back, hence the decision to start veteran TJ Perenara and put Finlay Christie, the next most experienced number nine, on the bench. I don’t think it was this at all. It was a general scope he was putting over all the playerbase, he went with this cohesion factor in every position. > If the main priority is to build different tactical elements to the gameplan, then Ratima is the man in whom Robertson needs to trust and promote. This also I think is antagonist towards the reference game plans. The other plans do not need the speed of which Perenara (atleast) can’t provide, and I think personal is going to be the main point of difference between these games/opponents. That is the aspect of which I think most people will struggle to grasp, a horses for course selection policy over the typical ‘Top All Black 15’. That best 15 group of players is going to have to get broken down into categories. So it test one we saw Christie control the game to nullify the English threats out of existence and grind to a win. In test two we saw Ratima need to come on which dictated that this time they would run them off their feet with speed and the space did open up and the victory did come. Horses for courses. The same concepts are going to exist for every group, front row, lock and loose forward balance, midfield, and outside backs all can have positional changes that the players may be asked to accentualize on and develop. There might be some that _it_ will not ever click for, but they’ll hopefully still be getting to enjoy unbelievable comeback victories and late game shutouts to close it down. Knowing does not mean not enjoying.

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