Rebels thumped in fifth straight loss with finals in doubt

The financially-stricken Melbourne Rebels have been cut from the Super Rugby Pacific competition by Rugby Australia.

The financially-stricken Melbourne Rebels have been cut from the Super Rugby Pacific competition by Rugby Australia. Photo: Getty

The ACT Brumbies have defeated the Melbourne Rebels 53-17 despite having three men yellow-carded in a penalty-disrupted drubbing at GIO Stadium.

Melbourne were unable to capitalise on their numerical advantage and must now wait for results elsewhere before they can celebrate securing their maiden Super Rugby Pacific finals berth.

The financially-stricken club’s potentially final-ever season slipped further away from them with Friday night’s loss their fifth straight.

Coach Kevin Foote and his charges will be desperate to turn their performances around and treat their long-suffering fans to a fairytale finals run before the club faces possible oblivion at season’s end.

“It’s not like we’re miles off,” Foote said.

“It’s just … the consistency of performance for 80 minutes. This is finals rugby now with the big boys, so this is crucial for us.”

The Brumbies’ defence stood firm when it mattered and their backs were more incisive when they had a chance to spread the ball.

Stephen Larkham’s men scored three tries in a seven-minute blitz while the visitors had a player in the bin.

Referee Angus Gardner eventually lost his patience with the Rebels for racking up ruck violations following Jahrome Brown’s opening try and sat down winger Darby Lancaster.

The Brumbies made the most of their extra man, scoring through Tom Wright, Nick Frost and hooker Billy Pollard before halftime.

Fullback Wright was a stand-out, along with returning speedster Corey Toole, whenever there was a long enough break between penalties for the game to run.

Wright was on the spot again after the break, latching onto a Rhys Van Nek reverse ball and ran through untouched for his second of the night.

But soon after, Brumbies flanker Brown and Tamati Tua were sin-binned in quick succession.

The pressure eventually told, with the Rebels scoring their first of the night through centre Filipo Daugunu after a series of scrum penalties.

Referee Gardner, who blew a total of 16 penalties against the home side, then yellow-carded Len Ikitau for offside as he unsuccessfully attempted to stop Angelo Smith from burrowing over for the Rebels’ second try.

Larkham was full of praise for Gardner, who he felt gave his players plenty of warning.

“It’s obviously quite a physical game,” he said.

“The guys were pretty keen to get off the line.

“I thought he handled it pretty well.”

Despite having 14 men on the field, the Brumbies extended their advantage late on through Van Nek before Luke Reimer scored the home side’s seventh and final try of the night.

After showing signs of improvement in the first half, the Brumbies’ problem scrum again faded in the second.

“We probably got dominated in the second half and probably needed to adjust better,” captain Allan Alaalatoa said. 

“But in terms of a reaction from last week (against the Crusaders), I thought it was much better.”

Brumbies prop James Slipper was taken off in the first half with a sore calf, although the injury is not expected to be serious. 

But Larkham will be tempted to rest the big man for the Brumbies’ last regular-season game against the Western Force, after the league-leading Hurricanes’ victory over the Chiefs earlier on Friday all but ended their top-two hopes.


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