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Things go from bad to worse for Rebels with Wallaby Hodge sent off in Force defeat

By AAP
Reece Hodge. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

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The Western Force have left Melbourne as the only winless Australian Super Rugby Pacific team, securing a 28-3 win in a disappointing homecoming for the Rebels on Saturday night.

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Returning to AAMI Park for their first home game in 287 days, the Rebels were looking to rebound from a heavy opening loss to the Queensland Reds.

But their stuttering attack failed to fire and they were unable to get across the try-line for their fans.

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Pumas star Pablo Matera discusses his move to the Crusaders.
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Pumas star Pablo Matera discusses his move to the Crusaders.

The men from Perth led 13-3 at halftime and that was blown out just two minutes into the second half as the Force took advantage of Melbourne losing Reece Hodge to a yellow card.

The Wallabies utility was sent for a stint on the sidelines for a cynical foul after he slapped the ball away from Reesjan Pasitoa following a break by the Force playmaker.

Centre Kyle Godwin then dotted down following a dominant Force scrum and with Ian Prior adding the extras the visitors had a commanding 17-point lead.

Further souring the Rebels’ night, Hodge was then given his marching orders in the 76th minute when he was pinged for a deliberate knockdown, with two yellow cards equating to red.

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Despite fine conditions in Melbourne, the Rebels never really looked like rallying with their poor attack a major challenge for new coach Kevin Foote, who is looking to put his stamp on their game.

The Force, who almost toppled the Brumbies last round, also won’t be overly pleased with their attack given the weight of possession they enjoyed, particularly in the first half.

Their only try in the opening stanza came through No 8 Tim Anstee in the 26th minute after some sustained pressure while reserve winger Byron Ralston ensured a bonus point with a try on the final siren.

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They could have an injury concern with Wallabies lock Izack Rodda limping off midway through the second half with a calf issue.

Melbourne lost hooker Jordan Uelese, who appeared to have reinjured his ribs in the first half, while English fullback George Worth only lasted two minutes when he entered the fray just after halftime. He appeared to have suffered a head knock.

The Force will host the Reds in Perth next weekend in their first home game of the year while the Rebels will play ‘away’ to the Fijian Drua, who are also yet to taste victory in 2022.

– Melissa Woods

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