The Melbourne Rebels will travel to Wellington hungry to claim their first win of the Trans-Tasman competition, following a bruising encounter against the Blues in the opening game of the inaugural Harvey Norman Trans-Tasman tournament.
The Rebels entered Saturday night’s game riding a wave of optimism, buoyed by the return of dynamic winger, Lachie Anderson, and the surprise debut of Eastwood product, Michael Icely, who recently relocated to Melbourne following an outstanding start to this year’s Shute Shield.
The Rebels also headed into the clash looking to grasp back-to-back wins against New Zealand opposition for the first time since May 2015, having defeated the Highlanders 28-22, in February 2020.
Recently re-signed skipper, Matt To’omua, opened Melbourne’s account in the eleventh minute, after a big effort in the scrum earned the Rebels a kickable penalty directly in front.
The Rebels were later denied a deserved penalty try when Jordan Uelese’s would-be major was illegally thwarted by Adrian Choat, who entered the maul from the side, leading to the back rower being handed a yellow card.
Unfortunately for the hosts, this was as close as they would get, as the Blues headed to the major breaking leading 17-3, before second half tries to Hoskins Sotutu, Akira Ioane, AJ Lam, saw the Blues runaway with a convincing 50-3 win.
On a tough night for Melbourne, Rebels’ star, Marika Koroibete was again among his side’s best, running for 62 metres from 6 runs and 7 tackles, while Josh Kemeny grabbed a game-high 12 tackles, closely followed by Michael Wells and Stacey Ili, who both had 11.
The Rebels now shift their focus to next week’s Round 2 clash against the Hurricanes in the Wellington on Friday night.