Rebels fall to Fiji in Super Rugby trial

Sat, Jan 28, 2023, 8:51 PM
Melissa Woods - AAP
by Melissa Woods - AAP
New Rebel, Alex Mafi, reflects on his first pre-season camp at the Rebels and what it meant to have Melbourne Rebels Board Member Gary Gray speak on the pride of representing Victorian Rugby.

Melbourne have opened their Super Rugby pre-season campaign with a 24-0 loss to Fijian Drua.

The Rebels travelled to Fiji for the first time but left empty-handed, unable to turn a swag of possession into any points.

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Recruits English lock Tim Cardall and hooker Alex Mafi, made their first appearance for the Rebels amongst a number of familiar faces such as Nambian Test flanker Richard Hardwick and Australia A halfback James Tuttle.

The match was played over four quarters at Prince Charles Park in steamy conditions, with a big home crowd turning out to support the Drua.

Both teams turned in a scrappy early showing, scoreless through the opening two stanzas.

Fijian Drua finally broke the deadlock in the third quarter through lock Kitione Salawa with playmaker Tuidraki Samusamuvodre stretching the lead to 12 points.

Heavy rain then started to fall, further impacting the handling, while the coaches used the trial to test different combinations.

Former Fiji Sevens player Iosefo Masi was next to cross to the delight of locals fans, with flanker Joseva Tamani adding the final five-pointer at the death.

Despite the scoreline, Melbourne coach Kevin Foote said they took plenty from the game.

"Those conditions are tough - we have never trained in those conditions," Foote told reporters.

"We will analyse the game with and of course, we've got a young team here and we are building."

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