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, Melbourne Rebels made up lost time in the 2nd-half but it’s ACT Brumbies who were firing in all cylinders that sealed the win at AAMI Park

It was a huge scoring game last night when the Melbourne Rebels began to bounce back from 3-17 after half-time with two tries from Cabous Eloff & Richard Hardwick, but it’s the Brumbies who were firing in all cylinders throughout the full 80 in a 17-36 win at AAMI Park.

The Rebels were happy to welcome back a few key players into the fold, such as two backline players in Andrew Kellaway & Reece Hodge, plus loose forward from the bench in Richard Hardwick. These players have played a part in their comeback after half-time alone, which wowed the home supporters off from their seats every time the Rebels score. If they’ve done this from the start, then the Rebels would’ve still been in the running but they have left it too late following a poor first-half spell.

Meanwhile, how good is this Brumbies attack! It’s incredible to look back with a whopping six tries on the board, mainly from full-back Tom Banks, who led this charge. We also saw some outstanding finishing from Tom Wright with two tries himself on the wide right, and the same goes with their back-row forwards in Rob Valetini & Jahrome Brown at the blindside (No.6) & openside (No.7) respectively. It’s only week 4 of 18 so far, but we’ll see if this Brums attacking shape will put to the test against the five New Zealand sides later on.

The Brumbies will return home in Canberra next Friday at GIO Stadium in a Grand Final Super Rugby AU rematch v Queensland Reds. And Melbourne Rebels are still looking for their first win of 2022 when they travel to Sydney next Saturday night v Waratahs at the SCG.

Rugby News, Western Force too good v Melbourne Rebels on their home turf at AAMI Park tonight, Week 2 of 2022 Super Rugby Pacific

It’s been a long time coming after 287 days, as Melbourne Rebels get to play at home in Round 2 of the Super Rugby Pacific v Western Force at AAMI Park. The first 20 minutes may be quiet for both teams, with the Force up ahead early in the first half, while Rebels just took the one three-point goal. But it’s the away team (Western Force) who found it too easy to nail down v Rebels by 25 points, 3-28.

The Force looked stronger than ever off the back of their 2021 season, even though they were so close to upsetting the Brumbies with the narrow loss last week in Canberra. They showed patience and teamwork for the majority tonight that led to a couple of successful big points, having dug deeper after the first 20 minutes of play when the Rebels lacked their attacking fire & possessed messy discipline. That’s how the Force took control of this game with Tim Anstee onboard with the first-half TRY. And they continued to increase their winning margin after half-time through Kyle Godwin via the penalty scrum feed, where the Force wrapped this up comfortably through another five-pointer touch score by sub utility back, Byron Ralston.

Meanwhile, the Rebels always know how to get the ball rolling defensively. They won a few penalties along the way including the three-point goal between the sticks from Matt Toomua at fly-half. However, they made plenty of ill-disciplinary mistakes, mainly full-back Reece Hodge, who received a double yellow card that turned into red. And the Rebels were also disorganized when trying to get the job done with the ball on hand despite the winning penalties, which is disappointing to reflect through a 25-point loss after full-time.

Rebels will now head off to Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, QLD on Friday night v Fijian Drua where they both seek their first victories of 2022. And the Force will host their first home game this year at HBF Park in Perth, also on a Friday night local time v Queensland Reds, which is straight after the conclusion of Drua v Rebels match-up.

Rugby News Australia: 2021 Super Rugby AU: Top 3 players from the Reds v Rebels Game

Alex Mafi was outstanding as the starting hooker for the Reds. He has the physical build to set up throw-ins and driving maul.

That first good example was not long after half-time. When Mafi controlled the maul by staying square & forward. He can notice the Rebels struggling to hold on.

Despite their desperate defense needed to hold the Reds out. But Mafi is focusing on the support needed to find some space. Thanks to the push from his team-mates. And pulled the trigger at the right time. When Mafi able to find the execution that marked the Reds first touchdown.

Then again in the 77th minute when the Reds earned another reprieve. As the Rebels began to falter. In return Mafi got the same routine right. Knowing where the Rebels struggle. Before the opposition just too slow to catch him. With Mafi using his attacking prowess of power & pace. And secured another touchdown that eventually became a winning moment.

It goes to show that Brad Thorn trusts Mafi in the starting XV. Where he disposed Brandon Paenga-Amosa. He has the defensive attributes to help out & build blocks. And the same goes in the attack with the physical package to hurt the defenders. As long he knows where the opposition unable to reach him. Mafi hopes he can help go one better in 2021.

Suliasi Vunivalu

Glad to see him return to rugby union after all with the Reds. Where he came off a great 2020 in rugby league for the Melbourne Storm. He may not been starting for most of the time tonight.

But as soon as he got off the bench in the 64th minute. Vunivalu added a different dimension in the backs. Mainly on the right flank alongside Filipo Daugunu via the opposite dial. While Jordan Petaia moved to inside centre. After a great run before Vunivalu came on. Just not enough support to support his execution early.

With Vunivalu you see him reliving Petaia to his favoured position. While he runs and runs around. Especially when he almost scored a touchdown off the boot of Joe Powell. The ball may have gone into touch one meter past the TRY line. But it still gave the Reds more chances in return.

Where the attacking awareness injected on the field. Despite the 14 men created by the Feao Fotuaika dangerous tackle earlier on. And the ill-discipline. The Reds were relieved to have his support. With the end goal all about winning. And they were able to just meet that requirement.

If Vunivalu did not come on then the Reds may not have won without him. He deserves to start next game. Not next week since his team has the bye. But he already shown lots of finishing prowess in league. There is lots of touchdowns recorded last year. Might be a different code this time. But he can transfer this attribute. So his presence is exactly what Brad Thorn needs in this squad. And go one better in 2021 for the championship.

Reece Hodge

He would be one of the best players on the opposite end tonight. Even though he is in a losing side. After starting the lead for most of the time & holding it. But just unable to maintain it until the very end.

Reece has the ability to run up to the defenders. Where he can provide the headstart needed for the Rebels. Thanks to the Reds ill-discipline. Credit is due to give himself a chance from the forwards unit. Goes to show these foundations.

It gives credit for the Rebels knowing where the Reds struggled. And why the home side unable to stay ahead for the majority. With Hodge using the pace & physicality not just the usual attack. In a bid to try and fend the opposition team.

He can hold back and stuff the Reds attacking half. When they lack support to continue with the ball. Hodge able to find and hold them short. Good reading there when the Reds felt isolated at times. And you have a tall stature in Reece holding them back. Reece can also kick into goal as well even from long range. Another reason there to face such a tough player.

The discipline mistakes late from the Rebels cost this game. Where there was not much opportunity to support Reece crack up the defense. Instead it is just desperately holding off with a lot of defensive input. And so little in the attack to distance themselves even further from the Reds. That is the one area the Rebels need to focus on next game. May be the answer to see more of Hodge being an all round player in the attack. Where he can finish off both the speed and boot. Marry it up and you see it as the game changer.