Hodge boots Rebels to victory
Hodge boots Rebels to victorySHARE
The Rebels, stung by attempts to cut them from next season's competition, fought back to win in the final minutes in Melbourne.
The Australian conference-leading Brumbies, who outscored the home side three tries to one, led for most of the second half before Hodge kicked the Rebels to victory.
The Rebels' spirited performance comes at the end of a week when the Australian Rugby Union said that either the Perth-based Western Force or Rebels would be culled from the revamped 2018 southern hemisphere tournament.
Melbourne held on for a gritty victory despite three acts of ill-discipline nearly costing them the match after Colby Fainga'a, Lopeti Timani and Fereti Sa'aga were all yellow carded.
The Rebels scored their only try through wing Sefa Naivalu, muscling past four opponents to score after 14 minutes.
The home side hung on to a 13-12 lead at half-time, but fell behind when wing Henry Speight scored his second try minutes after the resumption.
The game was on a knife edge for the rest of the second half with Hodge kicking two pressure penalty goals to get the Rebels home.
The loss ended the Brumbies' run of 10 successive wins over Australian opposition, although they are still at the top of their country's conference while the Rebels are at the bottom despite their win.
Man of the match: Henry Speight carried strongly for the Brumbies while Rory Arnold worked his socks off. Despite the game being tight throughout, there was no real standout player. Our award though goes to Rebels fullback Reece Hodge who held his nerve to hand his side the win.
For the Rebels:
Pens: Hodge 4
For the Brumbies:
Tries: Speight 2, Butler
Yellow cards: Colby Fainga'a (Rebels, 17 – tip tackle); Lopeti Timani (Rebels, 17 – punching); Fereti Sa'aga (Rebels, 43 – deliberate knock-on)
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Reece Hodge, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Tom English, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Nic Stirzaker (captain), 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga'a, 6 Lopeti Timani, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Steve Cummins, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 James Hanson, 1 Fereti Sa'aga.
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Tom Moloney, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Culum Retallick, 20 Hugh Sinclair, 21 Mick Snowden, 22 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 23 Ben Volavola.
Brumbies: 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Andrew Smith, 11 Tom Banks, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Jarrad Butler, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter (captain), 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Robbie Abel, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Tom Staniforth, 21 Tom Cusack, 22 De Wet Roos, 23 Jordan Jackson-Hope.
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)