Chiefs late show sinks Rebels
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: Three tries in the last 15 minutes helped the Chiefs beat the Melbourne Rebels 27-14 in Melbourne on Friday.
The win sees the Chiefs regain top spot from the Crusaders on the overall Super Rugby standings.
It also sees the Hamilton-based side remain unbeaten in this year's competition.
The Rebels made life tough for the Chiefs throughout the game and the home side had a surprise lead for most of the second half, before the visitors shifted into a higher gear in the last 15 minutes.
Dominic Bird, Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane and Shaun Stevenson scored the Chiefs' four tries, while Marika Koroibete scored the Rebels' solitary try.
The winless Rebels were coming off a 6-71 loss to the Hurricanes in their last outing and were expected to pose little threat against the high-flying Chiefs.
The Rebels actually led at one stage in the second half after going into the break 3-7 down, but the high-calibre Chiefs replacements proved the difference and gave the visitors a bonus point win to keep them ahead of fellow New Zealand outfit the Crusaders.
Chiefs captain Aaron Cruden said Melbourne had pressured them into mistakes.
"We were pretty average to be fair but I think that was due to the intensity that the Rebels brought," he said.
"I thought they were outstanding, particularly at the start and it took us a while to adjust.
"We got the bonus point but we were pretty lucky."
The Rebels started the match with plenty of aggression and were evenly matched in the opening stages.
After both teams missed early penalty shots at goal, the Chiefs opened the scoring midway through the first half with lock Dominic Bird, who collected the loose ball close to the line and dived over.
Damian McKenzie added the extras to give the visitors a 7-0 lead, which soon became 7-3 following a Jackson Garden-Bachop penalty.
The Rebels took an unlikely 8-7 lead five minutes after the restart when high profile Rugby League convert Marika Koroibete scored in the corner from a superb flat pass from Garden-Bachop.
A second Garden-Bachop penalty saw Melbourne go four points clear but after the Chiefs held on against some relentless Rebels attack, they struck back when lock Brodie Retallick crashed over at the back of a rolling maul.
McKenzie's conversion made it 14-11 to the Chiefs with 12 minutes remaining.
Two minutes later Chiefs replacement Jonathan Faauli was penalised for a no-arms tackle and Garden-Bachop levelled proceedings at 14-14, but a McKenzie penalty put the visitors back in front only five minutes from full-time, before late tries to Sam Cane and Shaun Stevenson saw the visitors home.
Man of the match: A number of Rebels players put their hand up with some spirited performances. However, the award goes to Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick for his overall performance around the park and for scoring a crucial try.
For Melbourne Rebels:
Pens: Garden-Bachop 3
Tries: Bird, Retallick, Cane, Stevenson
Cons: McKenzie 2
Yellow cards: Liam Messam (Chiefs, 27 - cynical play, playing the ball on the ground); Solomon Alaimalo (Chiefs, 57 - dangerous play, tip tackle)
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Jack Debreczeni, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Tom English, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 9 Nic Stirzaker (captain), 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga'a, 6 Jordy Reid, 5 Steve Cummins, 4 Culum Retallick, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 James Hanson, 1 Fereti Sa'aga.
Replacements: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Murray Douglas, 20 Jake Schatz, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Sione Tuipulotu, 23 Ben Volavola.
Chiefs: 15 Shaun Stevenson, 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Stephen Donald, 11 Solomon Alaimalo, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Sam Cane (co-captain), 6 Tom Sanders, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Sabastian Siataga, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, 18 Atu Moli, 19 Mitchell Brown, 20 Mitchell Karpik, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Aaron Cruden (co-captain), 23 Johnny Faauli.
Referee: Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia), Graham Cooper (Australia)
TMO: Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)