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Rebels stun Brumbies in rugby thriller

NZN 15/04/2017 Darren Snowden

The Melbourne Rebels have recorded their first win of the Super Rugby season with a heart-stopping 19-17 home victory over the Brumbies.

The Brumbies led on Saturday night for most of the second half, but Rebels centre Reece Hodge drilled a 78th-minute penalty goal to breathe life into Melbourne's 2017 campaign.

After a tumultuous week when their existence was thrown into question by the ARU announcing one Australian team would be culled from next year's competition, the Rebels held on for a gutsy win despite three acts of ill-discipline handing the Brumbies the advantage at key stages.

Hodge missed a long-range penalty attempt in the opening minute but the home side took a 3-0 lead shortly after with Colby Fainga'a earning a penalty at the breakdown for Hodge to convert.

The Rebels then crossed for the opening try when Sefa Naivalu launched a barnstorming run down the right wing, muscling past four opponents on a 30-metre run to the line.

Leading 10-0 after 15 minutes, the Rebels suffered a double blow with Fainga'a (lifting tackle) and Lopeti Timani (foul play) each shown yellow cards to hand the Brumbies a two-player advantage.

A lineout error cost the Brumbies an immediate chance to capitalise but it wasn't long before Henry Speight found space out wide for his first try of the night.

The Rebels returned to full strength but it was not enough to prevent the Brumbies taking the lead with Jarrad Butler finishing off a dominant scrum with a converted try.

A Hodge 40-metre penalty put the Rebels back in front before halftime, with Naivalu denied a first-half double on the final play of the stanza with the TMO ruling the winger's foot went into touch before he grounded the ball.

The Brumbies regained the lead straight after the break when Fereti Sa'aga became the third Rebel to receive a yellow card and a dominant scrum allowed Joe Powell to set up Speight's second.

Down 17-13, Hodge's third penalty of the night closed the gap to one point with 20 minutes remaining, but the Brumbies' defensive line appeared to have the Rebels' attack covered.

Hodge missed a penalty from beyond halfway in the 73rd minute but the Rebels earned a vital penalty at a scrum in the Brumbies' half, the centre making no mistake to win the game.

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