Rebels respond to 'soft' pack comments as Foote praises Gordon

Highlights from the Round 2 clash of Super Rugby Pacific 2024 between the Melbourne Rebels and Western Force

Melbourne Rebels coach Kevin Foote has heaped praise on his Wallabies stars as they produced the miracle comeback to defeat the Force.

Gordon and fullback-cum-wing Kellaway orchestrated a second-half revival at AAMI Park on Friday night, with the Rebels scoring four unanswered tries for a 48-34 win.

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As well as bagging a try himself, the classy No.10 had a hand in most of the Rebels' five-pointers while Kellaway scored twice in the first half to keep the home side in the game, trailing 24-19 at halftime.

Melbourne coach Kevin Foote said Gordon had quickly put aside any World Cup woes, when he was demoted from starting five-eighth for the Wallabies in France.

"Carter's he's been incredible," Foote said.

"'Kells' (Kellaway) supported him really well from the back, so that combination is vital for us.

"Carter hasn't come back with anything from the World Cup - he's obviously quite a stoic guy and he just wants to crack on to rugby now."

The win was also built off the back of a dominant pack performance, led by Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Josh Canham and Taniela Tupou.

The Rebels pack was labelled 'soft' after last week's defeat to the Brumbies by Wallabies legend Tim Horan.

A passionate speech by forwards coach and Lions lock Geoff Parling sparked the energy needed for the comeback.

"Our forwards coach Jeff Parling does immense work for us so when we hear those comments, we just wanted to do a job for him," captain Rob Leota said.

"His message before the game was he wanted to be on the field with us and he started to get a bit emotional so we knew from the get go that this was going to be a game that we need to solidify ourselves as a pack.

"I'm just proud of all the boys and the whole team to come away with the win."

"There were a few comments about our pack and I reminded them of those before the game," Foote explained.

"We don't really care what people say, we want to know what we think inside out camp but at the same time, if a Wallaby legend like Tim Horan says we're soft, we take notes of that and I think Lukhan (Salakaia-Loto) said it, that's personal."

Force coach Simon Cron was disappointed with how his team let the game slip away.

"We just gave them tries - through an intercept, dropping a high ball, we just let them back in the game," he said.

"There's a few things there we need to work on.

"The last 25 minutes was probably a mindset, where guys went a bit quiet and we went into our shell a little bit."

Loosehead prop Ryan Coxon, who was called into the starting side after injury and suspension, was stretchered off the field but Cron said he'd been cleared of serious injury.

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