April 29, 2023
Melbourne have ended a three-match Super Rugby Pacific losing run with a 43-33 win in Auckland over a fast finishing but undisciplined Moana Pasifika side.
The home team had three players sin-binned by referee Angus Mabey and were on the wrong end of a 12-2 first-half penalty count that added to their woes.
Strong in the set pieces, the Rebels scored seven tries to five in an entertaining scrap at Mt Smart Stadium between the two lowest teams on the ladder.
All four of Melbourne's first-half tries came while Pasifka were a man down, and their first five-pointer of the second half also came while the hosts were down to 14 men.
Pasifika trailed 38-12 before scoring three tries in the last 20 minutes to get within five points, before winger Monty Ioane crossed for a match-clinching five-pointer.
Early on, the Rebels dominated territory and came close to crossing on at least seven occasions before they did get over the line.
Pasifika flanker Miracle Faiilagi was binned for offside and Melbourne quickly capitalised on their numerical advantage.
Winger Lachie Anderson crossed after taking a cut out pass from Carter Gordon.
Five-eight Gordon and fullback Andrew Kellaway combined to send flanker Josh Kemeny dashing away for their second try.
Pasifika showed what they could do with some possession with winger Neria Fomai going over in the right hand corner following a tap penalty.
But when back within five points, prop Isileli Tu'ungafasi was shown a yellow card.
Gordon shaped to pass but ended up striding through a gap and centre David Feliuai produced a powerful run for the Rebels' fourth try to set up their 24-5 halftime lead.
Front-rower Ezekiel Lindenmuth was shown yellow less than 30 seconds into the second half and Melbourne again made the home team pay.
Replacement prop Pone Fa'amausili pounced on a loose ball near halfway and his smart pass to Alex Mafi sent the hooker scampering almost 50 metres.
Mafi barged over for his second try in the 58th minute after a perfectly executed driving maul following a lineout win.
Pasifika refused to crumble with their superstar centre Levi Aumua crashing over.
Replacement Rebels hooker Jordan Uelese was sin-binned for offside in the 76th and seconds later Fine Inisi crossed, with the same player rounding off a move for his second try with just over a minute left.
PASIFIKA (1-15): Abraham Pole, Samiuela Moli, Isi Tu’ungafasi, Michael Curry, Mike McKee, Miracle Faiilagi, Jonah Mau'u, Solomone Funaki (c), Ereatara Enari, Christian Lealiifano, Neria Foma'i, Danny Toala, Levi Aumua, Timoci Tavatavanawai, William Havili
RESERVES: Luteru Tolai, Ezekiel Lindnemuth, Chris Apoua, Alex McRobbie, Lotu Inisi, Jonathan Taumateine, Lincoln McClutchie, Fine Inisi
REBELS (1-15): Matt Gibbon, Alex Mafi, Sam Talakai, Angelo Smith, Trevor Hosea, Josh Kemeny, Brad Wilkin (c), Vaiolini Ekuasi, Ryan Louwrens, Carter Gordon, Monty Ioane, David Feliuai, Reece Hodge, Lachie Anderson, Andrew Kellaway
RESERVES: Jordan Uelese, Cabous Eloff, Pone Fa'amausili, Tim Cardell, Tamati Ioane, James Tuttle, Joe Pincus, Lukas Ripley
Referee: Angus Mabey
Assistant Referees: Brendon Pickerill, Marcus Playle