Rebels lose opening trial

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Melbourne Rebels had a rough start to their pre-season, soundly beaten by the Auckland Blues, 59-7.

Four tries in the final 20 minutes crushed the Rebels’ hopes of a trial win in New Zealand, as the Blues ran away with a big victory.

The home side dominated most of the match, getting on the scoreboard 10 minutes in through Jack Ram.

While the relatively inexperienced Rebels had a host of their major stars missing, the Blues were able to call on a handful of capped All Blacks including Jerome Kaino and Rene Ranger.

Ranger was impressive in his return from a neck injury as he played his first game for the Blues since finishing his stint with Montpellier.

The Rebels did have something to celebrate in the opening half, with Mitch Inman scoring the team’s only try just before the break.

Melbourne trailed by just one try at half-time, but the Blues’ seven unanswered second half tries quashed any chance the Rebels had of clinching a win.

Rebels coach Tony McGahan wasn’t happy with the result but said won’t be hitting the panic button just yet.

“I think the score line was pretty indicative of the way that Auckland played tonight,” he said.

“I thought they were pretty excellent all the way through. I was really impressed with the power and the pace they played with tonight and you that with a couple of class moments from Ranger in the backline.

“I thought the first half we were in there but we had to many individual mistakes which took a bit of momentum away from us.”

The Rebels play their second and final trial against Manu Samoa at AAMI Park in a fortnight.

Melbourne travels to Perth to open its Super Rugby season on February 27.