The NSW Waratahs have fallen short to the Melbourne Rebels, going down 36-25 in an entertaining clash at Bankwest Stadium.
The Melbourne Rebels got off to a dream start scoring a length of the field try off the kick-off. Frank Lomani broke free from his own 22m, racing downfield before linking up with Stacey Ili who finished the try in the opening minute of the match.
The Waratahs hit back through Ben Donaldson’s boot, with the fly-half kicking two penalty goals to close the gap to 7-6.
Isi Naisarani took advantage of some poor defence off a 22m attacking scrum, breaking away and setting up Michael Wells to score in the 12th minute. Matt To’omua kicked the conversion and added a penalty goal to extend the Rebels lead to 15-6.
Naisarani went from hero to villain for the away side when he was red carded in the 19th minute for a reckless high tackle on Max Douglas.
To’omua would another penalty goal for the Rebels in the 25th minute before the Waratahs were sparked to life through a brilliant try assist from Izaia Persese six minutes later. Perese drew in three defenders before offloading to Mark Nawaqanitawase who dotted down in the corner to close the gap to 18-11.
To’omua kicked another penalty late in the half, before Mark Nawaqanitawase set up a try to Jack Maddocks, making a break down the short side drawing in two defenders before offloading to his fullback. Ben Donaldson kicked the conversion form the sideline to make it a 21-18 score line at half-time.
The Waratahs started the second half as they did the first, gifting the Rebels an early try to Rob Leota off a rolling maul in the 43rd minute.
Carlo Tizzano kept the Waratahs in the fight, pick and driving to score in front of the posts to close the gap 28-25.
The away side extended their lead again through Matt To’omua’s boot before scoring the final try of the game through Matt Gibbon with a pick and drive in the 66th minute to make the final score line 36-25.
The Rebels would lose another player to a Red Card when Pone Fa’aumausili was sent off in the 77th minute for a shoulder charge on Max Doulgas.
The NSW Waratahs now turn their attention to the first round of the Trans-Tasman competition where they face the Hurricanes.
REBELS 36 (Tries: Ili, Wells, Leota, Gibbon Conversions: To’omua Penalties: To’omua 4) defeated WARTAHS 25 (Tries: Nawaqanitawase, Maddocks, Tizzano Conversions: Donaldson 2 Penalties: Donaldson 2) at Bankwest Stadium, Sydney
WARATAHS (1-15): Angus Bell, Dave Porecki, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Hugh Sinclair, Max Douglas, Lachlan Swinton, Carlo Tizzano, Will Harris, Jake Gordon (c), Ben Donaldson, James Ramm, Lalakai Foketi, Izaia Perese, Alex Newsome, Jack Maddocks
Reserves: Joe Cotton, Tetera Faulkner, Darcy Breen, Jeremy Williams, Michael Wood, Charlie Gamble, Jack Grant, Tane Edmed
REBELS: (1-15): Cameron Orr, Jordan Uelese, Cabous Eloff, Rob Leota, Ross Haylett-Petty, Michael Wells, Brad Wilkin, Isi Naisarani, Joe Powell, Matt To'omua (c), Marika Koroibete, Campbell Magnay, Stacey Ili, Frank Lomani, Tom Pincus
Reserves: James Hanson, Matt Gibbon, Pone Fa'amausili, Steve Cummins, Richard Hardwick, Josh Kemeny, Carter Gordon, George Worth