Reds hold out Rebels for Super Rugby win

Melissa Woods |

Prop Taniela Tupou was among the Queensland Reds try scorers in their win over the Melbourne Rebels.
Prop Taniela Tupou was among the Queensland Reds try scorers in their win over the Melbourne Rebels.

The Queensland Reds have snuffed out a spirited Melbourne Rebels fightback to secure a crucial 36-32 win in their Super Rugby Pacific clash at AAMI Park.

The Reds’ third successive victory comes at an ideal time with the trans-Tasman component of the competition starting next week, with Super Round being held at the same Melbourne venue.

At one stage trailing by 14 points, the Rebels hit the front for the first time in the 63rd minute, leading 25-24 after Matt Toomua converted a much-deserved try from lock Matt Philip.

But the Reds then scored twice within two minutes to stamp their authority on the game.

Prop Taniela Tupou dived across the line in the 66th minute and then Josh Flook ran onto a long ball after a break by Fraser McReight to score.

Melbourne continued to toil hard and a try by prop Cabous Eloff closed the margin to within four points with four minutes left on the clock.

But they were unable to find another five-pointer for the upset win.

Reds co-captain Tate McDermott felt his team were outplayed in some departments.

“I thought the Rebels brought it and there were parts of our game that were pretty average,” he said.

“Particularly around the the breakdown they did a good job of disrupting our ball and it made it difficult to get some continuity into our attack.”

The Rebels were left ruing some missed opportunities but felt it was another step forward despite defeat, with five-eighth Toomua playing his best match of the season.

“We’re genuinely competing against a team that’s really backing themselves,” Rebels captain Michael Wells said.

“They play quite an expansive game and we really matched it with them … we’ve got to take the learnings from it and go into the Kiwi games.”

Queensland led 24-15 at halftime, scoring three tries, however, two of those could have easily been scored by the hosts.

The Rebels worked the ball through quick hands and got to within 10 metres of the line but McReight snaffled the ball at the breakdown.

The Reds flanker took off down-field before offloading to Harry Wilson who sent the ball on for McDermott to touch down.

Melbourne were in another strong attacking position, looking to take advantage of Queensland missing winger Filipo Daugunu, who was given a yellow card for a high tackle.

But Lawson Creighton intercepted a Stacey Ili pass and ran 80 metres to score.

The Rebels at least manage to salvage two tries, scored by flanker Richard Hardwick and hooker James Hanson, while the Reds had 14 men.

Queensland lost Jordan Petaia midway through the first half with the star fullback appearing to suffer a hamstring twinge after his boot got stuck in the turf.

He will go for scans but the Reds said his departure was for “safety” reasons.

Suliasi Vunivalu came through the match unscathed, playing 50 minutes, with the former NRL winger lining up for his first game of the season due to ongoing hamstring injuries.

The Reds play the Hurricanes next Saturday while the Rebels take on the Crusaders on Sunday.