A brave defensive effort by the Melbourne Rebels underpinned a 37-17 bonus point victory over the Lions at AAMI Park tonight.
The Rebels will go into the bye week with an extra spring in their step; the victory ensuring a 3-3 record which keeps them within touching distance of the top eight.
Isi Naisarani created the first chance of the game when a well-timed offload found Billy Meakes in some space.
The linebreak beached the Rebels in the Lions 22, but the visitors defence could not be breached, forcing To’omua to opt for an easy three when a breakdown penalty presented itself.
Fresh from a brace against the Highlanders, Kellaway continued his rich vein of form when he pounced on a To’omua cut pass in the 15th minute to scoot 50 metres for the opening try.
Not even a yellow card to Marika Koroibete for a high tackle could slow the momentum of the home side.
Playing with 14 men, Kellaway breached the line yet again, slicing his way through a disjointed Lions defence to race into the backfield. With only Andries Coetzee to beat, the speedster turned provider, finding Richard Hardwick in support and gifting the flanker a try.
The Lions returned to what they know best – the maul.
It worked wonders for them; gifting them entry deep into the Rebels half and when the Melbourne men overcommitted to a dangerous drive, Andre Warner peeled away and found an unmarked Jamba Ulengo down the short side for the try.
Koroibete had barely returned to the field when Tom English replaced him on the sideline after a breakdown infringement.
Not to be perturbed, the fourteen men disadvantage would not halt the Rebels. Isi Naisarani’s deft tip pass to Matt Philip bent the line, and on the next phase Naisarani would make the most of the retreating defence to cross the chalk.
Ross Haylett-Petty will be top of his brothers Christmas card list this year, after the replacement lock assisted his brother in the fourth try of the match.
After a Ryan Louwrens linebreak on halfway, Dane Haylett-Petty’s support on the inside gifted him a passage to the tryline.
In an attempt to dive over the line, the skipper was held up and only afforded the five points after his brother successfully rolled him in the tackle to force the ball onto the grass.
The Lions responded through their most valuable weapon – the maul.
Replacement prop Sti Sithol making the most of his fresh legs to drive over the line in the 71st minute.
With the bonus point now under threat, Naisarani wasted no time returning the Rebels to the Lions quarter. His break lay the platform for the space on the edge and when Andrew Deegan marched down the right side, a try to the unmarked Kellaway was a formality.
Tries: Kellaway (2), Hardwick, Naisarani, D. Haylett-Petty
Penalties: To’omua (2)
Conversions: To’omua (3)
Conversions: Jantjies (2)
Halftime: 15-10 (Rebels)