Rebels cap horror week with comeback win in Super trial


Fullback Andrew Kellaway has marshalled Melbourne to a morale-boosting 26-21 victory over Fijian Drua in their final Super Rugby Pacific trial, ending a horror week on a bright note.

The Wallabies utility is set to start in the No.15 jersey for the Rebels’ opening round match against the ACT in Melbourne next Friday night, after also impressing in their previous trial win over NSW.

Financially-stricken Melbourne’s future appears on the brink after they entered into voluntary administration with debts exceeding $20 million and with chief executive Baden Stephenson among staff cut this week.

While they wait to hear if the club survives beyond this season the players, whose contracts have been guaranteed by Rugby Australia, got on with what they do best.

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Although World Cup five-eighth Carter Gordon touched down for Melbourne, the home side trailed 21-7 at halftime after a scrappy performance despite fielding their first-choice side.

In the final minutes, exciting young winger Darby Lancaster – who’s set to be part of Australia’s sevens team at the Paris Olympics – fired a perfectly-timed pass to fellow winger Lachie Anderson for the match-winning try.

Gordon looked sharp in the halves with Ryan Louwrens, while other stand-outs included new recruits in winger Filipo Daugunu and lock Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, as well as backrowers Josh Kemeny and skipper Rob Leota.

Another ex-Red, star prop Taniela Tupou, clocked another busy first half among a monster Melbourne pack before mass changes for the second half.

Kellaway, who played the full 80 minutes, said his team tightened up their game in the second half rather than try to match the flamboyant Fijians.

“We probably played too loose to begin and put ourselves under a bit of pressure and our discipline, which is the same old story for us, needed to tighten up,” said the 28-year-old, who was also part of the Wallabies’ World Cup flop.

Kellaway said the players were able to stay focused on their final hit-out rather than being distracted by the emotions of losing long-term staff.

Andrew Kellaway gets tackled during their Melbourne Rebels and Fijian Drua pre-season clash at Gosch’s Paddock. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

“Everything that sort of happened has been well and truly above our pay grade so we haven’t seen a great deal of what’s been going on, outside of what’s been in the media,” he said.

“Wednesday (the redundancies) was a pretty tough day for everyone but we’re lucky that we’re very protected from that … although it’s important to acknowledge the work that those people who have left us have done.

“But in terms of how that impacted the group, not as much as people might think.

“The emotional side of things is important because we’re dealing with humans but the big work-on for our team is to take the emotion out of the game.”

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