Rebels secure massive upset with Highlanders win
Cape Town - The Melbourne Rebels survived a Highlanders fightback to
record their first-ever win in Dunedin with a hard-fought 28-22 victory
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The Rebels scored four tries to three, including two
intercepts for wing Andrew Kellaway, to post their second win of the
After a three-try burst to go 21-0 up, the Rebels were
forced to dig deep in defence as the Highlanders roared back in front of
a vocal home crowd.
"It went back and forth, we had all the
momentum in the first half and they had everything in the second half,"
Rebels skipper Dane Haylett-Petty said.
"It was just a great clash."
The loss was the Highlanders' first defeat at home against Australian opposition since 2014.
Even worse for the hosts, captain James Lentjes was stretchered off in the first half with an apparent broken leg.
28, who only became captain this year after the departure of All Blacks
Ben Smith and Luke Whitelock, suffered what seems certain to be a
The Rebels raced to a 14-0 lead in the first
15 minutes with tries to Bill Meakes and Anaru Rangi, overwhelming the
Highlanders with dazzling speed and daring offloads.
The home team
then mounted a sustained attack, only for Kellaway to intercept close
to his own tryline and race the length of the field for his team's third
Kellaway's opposite number, Josh McKay, finally got the
Highlanders on the board but their woes deepened with Lentjes'
Aaron Smith scored the Highlanders' second try against the run of play to make it 21-14 at half-time.
hosts attempted to up the tempo after the break but Kellaway again
pounced on a loose pass and took off from deep within his own half for
his second intercept try.
The Highlanders ground out a try from
Scott Gregory but the debutant was sin-binned moments later for dangerous
play, stalling their comeback hopes.
There were also yellow cards
for Meakes and the Highlanders' Jona Nareki in the late stages, with
the game ending when the home team lost a lineout after the siren.
It is the second time the Highlanders have lost at home this season following their defeat to the Sharks, and they stay bottom of the Kiwi Conference.
The Rebels, meanwhile, move up to second in the Australian Conference.
Tries: Josh McKay, Aaron Smith, Scott Gregory
Conversions: Josh Ioane (2)
Tries: Bill Meakes, Anaru Rangi, Andrew Kellaway (2)
Conversions: Matt Toomua (4)