Blues turn it on late to smash Rebels as gun young lock finally stands up


Despite Josh Canham’s best performance of the year and another encouraging display from Darby Lancaster, the Rebels have suffered their second straight loss after going down heavily 38-11 to the Blues in Melbourne.

While the result showed a 27-point thrashing at the hands of the second-placed Blues, two tries in the final five minutes to replacement forward Sam Darry saw the scoreline blow out.

Before then, the Rebels played like a team that was tight and focussed despite the constant and extraordinary noise happening behind closed doors in Australian rugby.

Indeed, it was only hours before the Rebels took the field on Friday that creditors voted in favour of the besieged Super Rugby outfit continuing in the competition beyond 2024.

Sharp from Mark Tele’a! #SuperRugbyPacific #REBvBLU

— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) May 3, 2024

It was welcomed news for the Rebels and their supporter base, but there are still plenty of hoops that the Super Rugby side will have to jump through before they can pop the bubbles, including a likely battle in court.

Then, with so much still up in limbo, the Rebels had to turn their attention to tackling the biggest, most physical side in Super Rugby.

The Rebels started well enough, as they opened up an 11-7 lead at the half-hour mark, but as so often is the case the Australian side conceded before being unable to land an important blow on the stroke of half-time as the home side missed an important cleanout on their opponent’s line.

Halfback Ryan Louwrens walked away in frustration, while Taniela Tupou vented his frustration by yelling out his disproval as Jordan Uelese was pinged for not releasing.

The missed opportunity was one of many throughout the match as the Rebels failed to turn pressure into points.

In contrast, the Blues, whose lineout was picked apart by Canham, held on in the first half before they returned to the direct route of attack that had made them so successful through the opening 10 weeks of the competition.

Harry Plummer celebrates with try scorer Mark Tele’a during the Blues’ win over the Rebels at AAMI Park on May 03, 2024 . (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

The change in tactics saw the Blues turn the screws on the Rebels, with the visitors scoring four tries to none in the second half and 31 unanswered points in total.

“Yeah, terrible start from us,” said Blues skipper Patrick Tuipulotu, who scored his side’s fourth try,

“Melbourne, they played well, especially on the short side and we just couldn’t get any dominate tackles and they got us on the back foot. We were struggling to get any go-forward, we struggled at our set-piece.

“We had a big rark-up at half-time and had a good look at ourselves. We managed to play a simple game up front, tried to go through them and it worked for us in the end.”

Rebels captain Rob Leota said he was “proud” of the way his side started, but lamented their ill-discipline in the second half.

“You can’t do that against a quality side like the Blues,” he said. “We’ve got to take these lessons and go into next week against the Reds.”

Despite going down badly, the Rebels remain in fifth spot on the competition standings on 24 points and ten points clear of ninth-placed Moana Pasifika, who host the eighth-placed Highlanders on Saturday afternoon in Tonga.

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