Naivalu double seals Rebels victory

Super Rugby
Matt Lewis Profile
by Matt Lewis

A Sefa Naivalu double has sparked the Melbourne Rebels' first win in five weeks, 27-22 over the Force.

While they had plenty to celebrate, it was heartbreak for Rebels back, Mike Harris, who lasted just 12 minutes before coming off with a hamstring injury.

Harris was named in Michael Cheika's 39-man squad earlier this week, his first Test chance since 2013, and was playing his third game after a quad injury.

The Rebels were the first team on the board 12 minutes into the match when Harris found a gap to set up young gun Reece Hodge for his eighth try of the season, but that was the last involvement he had.

This led to a rejig of the backline with Jonah Placid coming on at fullback, pushing Jack Debreczeni to flyhalf.

Just minutes later the Force were able to capitalise on an advantage as Luke Morahan showed off his skills to regather his chip and chase and score in the corner.

Peter Grant and Hodge exchanged penalties, with the  as the Rebels holding a 10-8 advantage at the break.

The Rebels came out of the sheds firing as Naivalu showed off how much of a threat he is, scoring in the corner inside the opening two minutes to extend the Rebels lead to 15-8.

Just five minutes later young Force hooker Harry Scoble darted over for his second career try to level the scores.

With scores were locked at 15-15, the Rebels were left to rue lost opportunities as Hodge missed three penalties that could’ve eased the pressure for the home side.

While they were inaccurate in front of goal, the Rebels owned 63 per cent of the possession and made three times the amount of run metres than the Force to dominant the play.

The Rebels were finally rewarded with 20 minutes to go when big man Lopeti Timani and speedster Naivalu crossed over for two quick tries to finally convert some pressure .

Morahan scored his second of the night with just eight minutes left to keep the Force in the match, but it was little, too late for the West Australian side.


(Tries: Naivalu 2, Hodge, Timani Cons: Hodge, Debreczeni Pens: Hodge)


(Tries: Morahan 2, Scoble Cons: Grant Pens: Grant)