March 18, 2023
Melbourne Rebels have scored four tries against the unbeaten Super Rugby Pacific leaders, but the Chiefs recovered from a poor start to record a 44-25 win in Hamilton.
The Chiefs scored six tries of their own and picked up a fourth straight bonus-points win, while the Rebels dropped to 1-3.
Melbourne scored the first eight points of the contest, but conceded the next 27.
They scored the last try of the first half and got back to 27-15 by halftime, but the home side crossed twice in the first five minutes after the restart to pull away again.
Melbourne lost centre and Wallabies utility back Reece Hodge to an injury early in the game.
Rising five-eighth Carter Gordon was prominent in the Rebels' good start after Hodge notched the first points of the game with a penalty goal.
A well-timed pass from Gordon put Hodge through and he beat two players before being pulled down just short of the line.
Melbourne recycled and a long cutout pass from Gordon found captain and flanker Brad Wilkin, who put hooker Alex Mafi over in the corner.
The Chiefs got on the board through a penalty to five-eighth Bryn Gatland and Gordon came close to adding another try with a fine solo run, before he was tackled by fullback Shaun Stevenson close to the line.
The hosts retained possession better in latter part of the opening half and unlocked the Rebels' defence, scoring three tries.
A great run down the right from Emoni Narawa set up inside centre Rameka Poihipi, and he returned the favour for the former with a good chip kick which the winger gathered and just managed to stay inside the field of play before touching down.
The rampaging Chiefs added another try when Stevenson raced onto a kick, toed the ball through and won the chase.
Melbourne got a much needed score before the break when centre Stacey Ili crossed after good work from Gordon and winger Lachie Anderson.
Any hopes of a full-scale Rebels revival were dashed when prop Tyrone Thompson burrowed over less than two minutes into the second half, and Stevenson pounced on a loose ball to score his second three minutes later.
Melbourne continued to complete and fullback Nick Jooste scored their third try, with Gordon again involved in the buildup.
The Chiefs responded again through winger Etene Nani-Seturo, crossing after the ball was quickly transferred from one side to the other after they turned it over in Rebels territory.
Wilkin was held up over the line and the Rebels created other opportunities but poor handling and options stymied them until replacement David Feliuai barged over.
Chiefs 44 (Rameka Poihipi try 21min, Emoni Narawa try 34min, Shaun Stevenson tries 37min, 45min, Tyrone Thompson 42min, Etene Nanai-Seturo 53min; Bryn Gatland 4 con, 2 pen) Rebels 25 (Alex Mafi try 11min, Stacey Ili try 39min, Nick Jooste try 48min, David Feliuai try 74min; Carter Gordon con, Reece Hodge pen). HT: 27-15
CHIEFS (1-15): Aidan Ross, Tyrone Thompson, John Ryan, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Samipeni Finau, Luke Jacobson, Pita Gus Sowakula, Cortez Ratima, Bryn Gatland, Etene Nani-Seturo, Rameka Poihipi, Alex Nankivell, Emoni Narawa, Shaun Stevenson
RESERVES: Samisoni Taukei'aho, Ollie Norris, George Dyer, Laghlan McWhannell, Kaylum Boshier, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Josh Ioane, Peniasi Malimali
REBELS (1-15): Matt Gibbon, Alex Mafi, Sam Talakai, Tuaina Taii Tualima, Trevor Hosea, Josh Kemeny, Brad Wilkin (c), Richard Hardwick, Ryan Louwrens, Carter Gordon, Monty Ioane, Stacey Ili, Reece Hodge, Lachie Anderson, Nick Jooste
RESERVES: Anaru Rangi, Cabous Eloff, Pone Fa’amausili, Vaiolini Ekuasi, Angelo Smith, James Tuttle, David Feliuai, Lukas Ripley
Referee: Dan Waenga
Assistant referees: Paul Williams, Nick Hogan