James Hanson’s back to back 1st half tries & a Reece Hodge 2nd half display helped Melbourne Rebels wrap up a four-point win v Moana Pasifika at AAMI Park

Round 11 of the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific continues to breed spectacular match-ups like this Saturday night fixture between the Melbourne Rebels v Moana Pasifika at AAMI Park. It was a competitive first-half spell when the Rebels caught up to Moana, 14-10, at the break. Although, Moana struck one back where they briefly regained the lead. However, it’s the Rebels who were unstoppable before they shut Moana down by full-time at 26-22.

Well done to Melbourne Rebels on a fine display where they took advantage of a number of lost penalties by Moana in the first half. Credit to James Hanson, who was the mastermind at starting hooker when it comes to the line-outs & maul, with back-to-back tries before an early mark to the bench not long after half-time. Meanwhile, Reece Hodge managed to put the Rebels back in the box seat & stayed there thanks to his stunning 2nd half spell. He too not only scored one by himself but also assisted one that ended Andrew Kellaway’s seven-game hoodoo without a TRY on the right-wing.

And unlucky from Moana Pasifika tonight, who played really well against an opponent that doesn’t give away any team lightly. They fired off well with the early lead which is good signs from this new Pasifika Super Rugby outfit. Although they kept going despite losing the lead, and were almost within winning reach again towards an upset. Unfortunately, a number of lost penalties counted against them in the 1st half came back to bite them later on before Moana fell just short.

Moana will return to Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland for Round 12 next Saturday afternoon v NSW Waratahs, who were triumphant in their 24-21 upset win earlier tonight v Crusaders. And the Rebels are also heading off to Auckland as well, but this time at Eden Park on Friday night v the Blues.

Rugby News, Top 3 players from the Melbourne Rebels v Moana Pasifika Game in RD11 of 2022 Super Rugby Pacific

We have to say that Reece Hodge is everything that the Rebels needed tonight at full-back. His kicking was top-notch as always when it comes to conversion kicks into goal and even the 50/22 rule into touch. He also played a brilliant role in the attack during the 2nd half, not only Hodge’s a huge threat going forward through the channels but he knows where to find his men or the TRY line himself. Well done on a fine performance with the help of his forwards that helped the Rebels regain the lead, as well as their winning margin.

Meanwhile, credit to James Hanson with his first-half display having scored two tries for the Rebels tonight. He credits these winning penalties off the back of the Moana Pasifika’s disciplinary errors, especially at line-outs/throw-ins where Hanson knew what to do with the ball before it was well executed with plenty of support past the TRY line. And although he finished his shift early, he has so much experience on his plate when Hanson is an important player to learn from within the Rebels dressing room.

And Levi Aumua put in a great shift in the No.13 shirt at outside centre for Moana Pasifika tonight. He isn’t shy when Aumua smashes through the Rebels defense while building some pressure with the ball going forward. His full-game contribution alongside the benefit of winning penalties, helped Moana find their way past the TRY line on a couple of occasions. It just wasn’t his night to reflect when Moana’s disciplinary issues led to plenty of lost penalties before they left it too late towards full-time.

Rugby News Australia, 2021 Super Rugby AU WK4: Top 3 players from Force v Rebels Game

Marika Koroibete just could not stop running all night. He brings so much attacking edge on offer in the 11 Rebels shirt. When he helped out with his forwards pack to stop the Force from scoring. He is good to tackle defensively based on their lack of decoy runners.

That part of contributing added more muscle to help turnover the ball. Before the forwards able to help Marika out in return. Having seen them gain some meters. Where he did offered some great reading to break through the gate. Added some protection on the far right. And Joe Powell was able to patten these passes to the Rebels backline. That saw Lachie Anderson take their first five-point score.

Another good example during the the 2nd half. The communication was there after the successful throw-in penalty. James Hanson was able to find a gap through the gate. And called Marika out for his help via the inside ball. Where he has the licence to thrill through some space. Then found Joe Powell on his left to assist the Rebels touchdown in the end. Now that is impressive attacking play communication.

He was the man of the match last week v Brumbies. Despite most of his backline were not really firing without his help. As the Rebels have a great defensive structure that can win penalties. But last night is all about helping the overall team out. And that helped the Rebels connect their XV to put these points early. Before holding off in the end. It is something they want to carry on v Waratahs next week.

James Hanson

He is very mindful and alert in the defensive play. Where James kept an eye out on what the Force wanted to plan in return. The opposition did not fire with the support they need. So he was able to form some decent blocks to cancel these runs.

So does their poor maul/scrum where the Force unable to stay square. And the poor communication there like these lack of conversions. It gave another chance for Hanson to unleash that physicality. Then there goes the ref for that Rebels turnover.

Again his impressive defensive play gave a helping hand in attack. The throw-ins are accurate to help win the line-out for his team. That one example he did in the 63rd minute saw the Rebels extend their lead. Where Hanson was able to spot an gap through the gate. Flicked the inside ball to Koroibete. And saw this winger speed straight through. Before Marika found Joe Powell towards the run home.

Got to praise his all-round work rate from last night. With competition heating up in the No.2 Rebels starting shirt. Especially with Jordan Uelese injured right now. He would be back in Week 7. So Hanson has to keep his good run v Force. And carry it v the beleaguered Waratahs next week.

Fergus Lee-Warner

He had a great game himself all night in the No.6 Force shirt. The defense was there as usual. Where he was able to read the Rebels missed chances at times. In which gave his Rebels side an opportunity to come back. Thanks to his physical build & tall reach. After winning the penalty or turnover having seen not much big scores.

But unfortunately there was not much support going forward. When his backline were not on the same page. As it was during last week v Waratahs in Parramatta. Just unable to replicate what the Rebels have shown during the 1st 40.

Although, a few changes with 20 minutes left saw the Force back in contention. But most of the starting backline. And their lack of contribution to support the Rebels forward pack cost them. When Fergus tried to force his way through the finish line alone. Once again just no support players to find. And that was the beginning of the end from the Force. With not much time to catch up in the end.

It may have been a really close game after all. If the Force won again then the home crowd would be off their seats. But not last night. As usual the foundations are there to help win turnovers & penalties. Just missing what their backline can offer in return. That would have seen them gain more points for the whole Force side. He will need them to be on their very best next Saturday in Brisbane. When they face 2nd best side Queensland Reds.