Rebels launch sensational second-half comeback to down Force

Fri, Mar 1, 2024, 10:51 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Andrew Kellaway solo try v Western Force in Round 2 of Super Rugby Pacific 2024

The Melbourne Rebels have produced an incredible comeback to defeat the Western Force 48-34 at AAMI Park.

They scored 29 unanswered points to stun the Force, who looked home when Michael Wells’ try gave them a 15 point lead.

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Carter Gordon and Andrew Kellaway were immense in the comeback as they rebounded from last week’s defeat to the Brumbies.

It turned into a battle of the tens as Gordon and Ben Donaldson traded killer blows.

Fullback Andrew Kellaway opened the scoring in the eighth minute, sprinting past Harry Potter and running 60 metres for the try.

It was a classy performance from the fullback who was at his best throughout the contest

Not to be outdone, Donaldson put the Force in front when he accelerated through the defence and put Chase Tiatia over for his second try in as many games.

The Force rolled down the field and cross through hooker Tom Horton, with Josh Canham set for ten for repeated infringements as their lineout and defence struggled.

The visitors lead extended to 12 as winger Potter caused havoc, nearly creating a try for Max Burey before it was brought back for a forward pass.

Gordon turned out to be the steadying figure for the Rebels, powering over the line for the try after setting up the strong field position with a great cross-field kick to Kellaway.

Whilst Burey eventually found the line, Gordon and Kellaway combined again for the fullback’s second, reducing the margin to five deep into injury time in the first half.

The Force responded after the break as a Donaldson penalty and a try in the corner to Michael Wells gave them a 34-19 lead.

It took a special offload from Josh Canham to Josh Kemeny to restore the hosts’ confidence, starting an avalanche of Rebels points.

They scored three tries in eight minutes, with Gordon snatching a Donaldson pass to run 80 metres to score.

Winger Filipo Daugunu put them in front as he collected a bomb in space and ran away.

When David Feliuai’s grubber found Daugunu in space, the Rebels were home as they pulled off the miraculous comeback.

Lukhan Salakaia-Loto was immense in shutting down the game, producing his finest game in Rebels colours for the win.

REBELS 48

Tries: Kellaway 2, Gordon 2, Kemeny, Daugunu 2

Cons: Gordon 3/4, Strachan 3/3

Pens: Strachan 1/1

FORCE 34

Tries: Tiatia, Horton, Burey, Wells

Cons: Donaldson 3/4

Pens: Donaldson 2/2

MELBOURNE REBELS v WESTERN FORCE TEAMS

Melbourne Rebels: 15 Andrew Kellaway, 14 Lachie Anderson, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 David Feliuai, 11 Filipo Daugunu, 10 Carter Gordon, 9 James Tuttle, 8 Rob Leota (captain), 7 Brad Wilkin, 6 Josh Kemeny, 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Josh Canham, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Alex Mafi, 1 Matt Gibbon

Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Isaac Kailea, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Tuaina Taii Tualima, 20 Vaiolini Ekuasi, 21 Ryan Louwrens, 22 Jake Strachan, 23 Nick Jooste

Western Force: 15 Max Burey, 14 Harry Potter, 13 Sam Spink, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Chase Tiatia, 10 Ben Donaldson, 9 Nic White, 8 Will Harris, 7 Carlo Tizzano, 6 Michael Wells, 5 Thomas Franklin, 4 Jeremy Williams, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Tom Horton, 1 Ryan Coxon

Replacements: 16 Feleti Kaitu’u, 17 Charlie Hancock, 18 Tiaan Tauakipulu, 19 Tim Anstee, 20 Lopeti Faifua, 21 Ollie Callan, 22 Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, 23 George Poolman

Referee: Nic Berry

Assistant Referees: James Doleman, Reuben Keane

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