Rebels upset Fijian Drua to break Super W drought

Melissa Woods |

The Melbourne Rebels brought their Super W campaign to a close with a shock win over Fijian Drua.
The Melbourne Rebels brought their Super W campaign to a close with a shock win over Fijian Drua.

If Melbourne’s Super W team have played their last match, they’ve gone out in style with an upset 34-21 win over Fijian Drua in the final round.

The Rebels have only won once previously in the six-year history of the competition, back in 2020, but shocked the two-time champion Fijians in their AAMI Park clash on Saturday.

Drua fullback Atelaite Buna scored her second try in the 70th minute to close the margin to six points and set up a grandstand finish.

But having conceded 88 points in their previous two clashes, Melbourne continued their impressive defensive effort before superstar Ash Marsters bagged her second try to seal an emotional win.

Ash Marsters.
Ash Marsters (centre) scored two tries as the Rebels outfought the Fjiain Drua in Melbourne. (Rob Prezioso/AAP PHOTOS)

Like their male Super Rugby Pacific counterparts, the women are waiting on a decision from Rugby Australia about the cash-strapped Rebels’ future.

Reeling under massive debt, the Melbourne club could fold at the end of the season.

But for now the women could celebrate, with the Drua unable to keep pace with Melbourne’s work-rate around the breakdown and enterprise in attack.

Rebels five-eighth Cassie Siataga was a stand-out with a flawless kicking display.

She nailed a conversion from the sideline and also a booming 50:22 early in the second half to piggy-back her team down the field.

The Drua got off to a flying start, scoring in the second minute with a length of the field effort finished off by Buna.

After an early penalty strike by Siataga, Melbourne scored their first try in the 17th minute when they moved the ball wide before a backhand pass from flanker Mel Kawa found winger Chanelle Kohika-Skipper.

That put the home side ahead 10-7 but the Fijians had the final say of the half when prop Vika Matarugu barged over the line just before the break to take the lead 14-10.

After another Siataga penalty, Marsters – playing in the centres – took advantage of a quick tap to slice through the defence to touch down and again put her team ahead.

The Rebels pushed the lead out to 27-14 when prop Jiowana Sauto was able to slam the ball over the line after a pick and go.

The match was stopped in the 65th minute when Merewai Cumu was stretchered off after a heavy collision, with the Drua inside centre handed a red card for her troubles.

Buna then collected a loose Rebels pass to score before skipper Marsters’ late effort iced the victory.

Marsters said that after finally cracking a win it was a shame the five-round season was already over.

“It was a long time coming, for everyone in the team, everyone in Melbourne,” she said after suffering two-point losses against the Queensland Reds and the ACT Brumbies this season.

“We’ve been waiting for that one for a long time and to do it against a class team like that, we deserve a pat on our backs.”

The Drua will host the Western Force in the semi-finals next Friday, with the unbeaten NSW Waratahs welcoming the Brumbies to Sydney the same day.

AAP