Rebels put aside off-field drama to deliver Super Rugby ‘statement’ win over Tahs as recruits stand up


The Melbourne Rebels have put aside their off-field woes to post a 38-12 victory over the NSW Waratahs in their first hit-out of the year.

The Rebels entered voluntary administration this week but the side gave their fans at local club Moorabbin something to cheer about on Saturday, stretching their 12-5 halftime lead into a convincing Super Rugby Pacific preseason win.

Former Queensland and Wallabies lock Lukhan Salakaia-Loto formed a dangerous first-half combination with youngster Josh Canham, who scored a try and set up another.

Youngster Daniel Maiava, who came on in the second row in the second half, posted a double.

Rebels general manager of rugby Nick Stiles said it was a solid performance at the end of a tough week.

“It’s fantastic. It’s the first trial game we’ve won in the last three years,” he said.

“With everything else that’s been going on we wanted to come out and make a statement around that.

“We’ve been so confident around the work we’ve been putting into the program for the last few years and I thought today was a reflection of how hard they’ve trained through the preseason and the depth we’ve got in the group.

“It’s only a trial game, but it’s a great starting point.”

Filipo Daugunu and Matt Proctor react during the Rebels’ big win over the Waratahs at Harold Caterson Reserve on February 03, 2024 in Melbourne. (Photo by Morgan Hancock/Getty Images)

Stiles said Salakaia-Loto, 27, was in great condition and showing great attributes after returning from English club Northampton.

“Our new head of strength and conditioning Luke Bellow has got him into career-best shape,” he said.

“It’s the fittest he’s ever been, it’s the leanest and he’s got more muscle and he’s just been an absolute leader.

“We’re really stoked with how he’s started.”

Another star recruit, Wallabies prop Taniela Tupou, played the opening 30 minutes in hot conditions and most importantly given his injury history came through unscathed.

The Waratahs, who were missing skipper Jake Gordon, also left intact with Wallabies backrower Langi Gleeson among their tryscorers.


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