Foote praises Lancaster as Rebels edge closer to finals

Sun, Apr 14, 2024, 7:21 AM
AAP
by AAP
Darby Lancaster Try from Round 8 of Super Rugby Pacific 2024

Melbourne Rebels coach Kevin Foote has praised young gun Darby Lancaster after his star-making performance against the Highlanders.

The 20-year-old raced away with a hat-trick to help the Rebels to a bonus point victory and into the top four.

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He scored the opening and closing tries of the first half to set up a 26-10 lead heading into the break, showing off his explosive pace and skills.

Lancaster kicked ahead, beating star Highlanders fullback Jacob Ratumaitavuki-Kneepkens to the ball.

His second was equally impressive, bursting on to a tip-on pass from fullback Andrew Kellaway and racing to the line.

"He's got out-and-out speed, he's got real gas," Foote said of Lancaster.

"He backs himself and he's come out of that sevens circuit, so it's the way he finishes and he's no nonsense. He's from the country, and he just smiles and gets on with it."

Lancaster will be a man in demand come July, as the Kempsey product signed a two-year deal with the Rebels but has a clause that allows him to play sevens in the Paris Games if selected.

He was a regular member of the national team before switching to the 15-player game.

For the time being, his focus will remain on the Rebels, who secured their third straight win before their bye.

"It was an awesome way to finish this three-week block," said coach Kevin Foote, with his team on a bye next round.

"The guys played some awesome rugby out there, (they're) really starting to find the combinations now. 

"There's a lot of belief and really strong leadership so it's a brilliant way to finish off the block coming back from our loss to the Hurricanes (in round five)."

Highlanders coach Clarke Dermody said his team put themselves under pressure too often.

"We felt like we were always close enough to be in it, but left ourselves too much to do," he said.

The Dunedin-based side next face the Queensland Reds in Brisbane and are likely to be without centre Jonah Lowe, who suffered a knee injury in the opening minutes.

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