April 24, 2022
Melbourne Rebels have been unable to square the ledger with the Kiwi teams, crashing to a 42-17 defeat by the heavyweight Crusaders to wrap up Super Round in Melbourne.
In the early game on Sunday at AAMI Park, which hosted five Super Rugby Pacific matches over the weekend, the Brumbies got the sole Australian win over a New Zealand team, beating the Highlanders 28-17.
The NSW Waratahs went down to the Chiefs 51-27 on Friday night while the Queensland Reds blew a 17-point lead to lose to the Hurricanes 30-17.
Melbourne's hopes of an upset weren't helped by losing veteran midfielder Matt Toomua to a head knock 13 minutes in, replaced by youngster Carter Gordon, who has only had one start at 10 this season.
The Rebels were in the hunt at halftime, trailing 7-3 with No.8 Cullen Grace the sole tryscorer with the Crusaders making a swag of uncharacteristic errors.
But the men from Christchurch put the hammer down immediately after the break with the home side unable to match them for skill or pace.
Rebels coach Kevin Foote said missing 34 first-up tackles meant his team were gassed, while the Crusaders in comparison only missed six.
"I think halftime we're right in it but we had too many first phase errors so we couldn't get any attack at them," Foote said.
"Even at the end of the game to score two tries showed the guys kept believing, but we are disappointed."
"The message at halftime was if you hit the first time tackles, you don't have to run 30 metres backwards to go and scramble, so we will look at that."
All Blacks flanker Ethan Blackadder scored twice within 10 minutes to push the lead out to 19-3 by the 53rd minute.
Argentina captain Pablo Matera was another of the Crusaders' stars, with a hand in two tries.
In the second the flanker showed his skills by toeing the ball ahead before reeling it in and recycling, with Tamaiti Williams finding the line for the Crusaders' fourth try of the night.
Melbourne made the scoreline more respectable with Reece Hodge running on to a Gordon grubber into the in-goal to score before hard-working lock Matt Philip was rewarded with a try.
But the Crusaders had the final say with winger Leicester Fainga'anuku managing to wrestle the ball down despite the efforts of three Rebels defenders.
Coach Scott Robertson said his team unnecessarily complicated their attack.
"Early on we made so many opportunities we didn't know which one to take," he said.
"More of our a mindset was to complete them and put pressure on them straightaway but we kept them in the game.
"We got there in the end - the frustration could have got to us but we kept a clear head."
Crusaders 42 (Tries: Grace, Blackadder 2, Hall, Williams, Fainga'anuku, Cons: Mo'unga 5, Burke) def Rebels 17 (Tries: Hodge, Philip, Cons: Hodge 2, Pen: Hodge ) HT: 7-3
Crusaders: 15 George Bridge, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Braydon Ennor, 12 Jack Goodhue, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitch Drummond, 8 Cullen Grace, 7 Ethan Blackadder, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Zach Gallagher, 3 Olie Jager, 2 Codie Taylor (captain), 1 George Bower
Replacements: 16 Ricky Jackson, 17 Tamaiti Williams, 18 Fletcher Newell, 19 Dominic Gardiner, 20 Corey Kellow, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Fergus Burke, 23 Chay Fihaki
Rebels: 15 Reece Hodge, 14 George Worth, 13 Andrew Kellaway, 12 Stacey Ili, 11 Glen Vaihu, 10 Matt To’omua, 9 James Tuttle, 8 Michael Wells (captain), 7 Brad Wilkin, 6 Rob Leota, 5 Josh Hill, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Cabous Eloff, 2 James Hanson, 1 Cameron Orr
Replacements: 16 Efi Ma’afu, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Rhys Van Nek, 19 Josh Canham, 20 Tamati Ioane, 21 Sam Wallis, 22 Joe Powell, 23 Carter Gordon
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant referees: James Doleman & Jordan Way