Rebels sneak home against Moana Pasifika as ‘disappointing’ second half fade-outs once again sting


They made it hard for themselves, but the Melbourne Rebels breathed a deep sigh of relief on Saturday afternoon as they snuck home against the lowly Moana Pasifika in Auckland.

After opening up a 38-12 lead midway through the second half, the Rebels had an anxious last minute as their lead was cut to just five points after Fine Inisi crashed over with Jordan Uelese in the sin bin.

Having witnessed his side self-destruct through terrible discipline in the first half, former All Blacks midfielder turned coach Aaron Mauger roared with delight. It was in stark contrast to Kevin Foote, whose walkie talky once again got a workout in the second half.

But a runaway Cabous Eloff from turnover ball saw their blood pressure as ease, as a powerful attacking cleanout gave quick ball to the visitors and saw Monty Ioane score out wide to seal the match.

“Crucial,” Rebels captain Brad Wilkin described the win.

But after starting the weekend in 11th spot on the standings, the excellent flanker knew full well the missed opportunity of not picking up a bonus point as they moved up to ninth ahead of their crunch local derby against the Brumbies.

“Disappointing we let the bonus point slip there but credit to Moana, they came back and fought all the way. It was a tough game in the end,” Wilkin said.

Asked about their important game against the Brumbies next weekend, Wilkin didn’t take a backward step.

“Bring it on,” he said.

“Excited to get back at home, Sunday afternoon footy, so let’s go.”

For the Rebels to stand a chance they’ll have to overturn their second half fade outs.

Twice the Rebels blew first half leads against the Blues and Crusaders at home to end up with zero points.

Saturday’s effort against Moana Pasifika, who remain winless through nine matches, made it more than a trend.

Depth can’t be blamed either because the Rebels have an international front-row to bring off the bench while James Tuttle, Nick Jooste and Joe Pincus are no strangers to Super Rugby either.

Discipline remains crucial while a rock solid set-piece is necessary for Kevin Foote’s side to take the next step and land a proper blow.

Alex Mafi scored a double in the Rebels’ win over Moana Pasifika at Mt Smart Stadium on April 29, 2023, in Auckland. Photo Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

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