Melbourne Rebels missed the chance to move back into third place in the Super Rugby AU standings on Sunday as indiscipline cost David Wessel’s side in a 26-20 loss at the hands of the ACT Brumbies at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.
A pair of yellow cards in quick succession in the first 40 minutes for Marika Koroibete and Trevor Hosea saw the Brumbies establish a decisive 12-point lead at halftime in a game the Rebels needed to win.
The loss leaves the Rebels two points behind the Western Force with one game remaining after picking up a losing bonus point as the pair battle it out for the last berth in next month’s finals series.
The Rebels had taken the lead when James Hanson emerged from the back of the maul to squeeze over the line from close range eight minutes into the game.
But poor discipline hurt the Rebels in the first 40 minutes as a succession of penalties saw referee Damon Murphy brandish yellow cards in the direction of Koroibete in the 17th minute and, 13 minutes later, Hosea.
With Koroibete off the field, Rory Scott scored his first-ever Super Rugby try in the 18th minute as the Brumbies pack drove over the line.
The powerful Brumbies forwards continued to dominate and, with four minutes remaining in the half, Cadeyrn Neville put the visitors in front when he burst through to score.
Tom Wright then ran from inside his own half to give the Brumbies a 19-7 halftime lead over the short-handed hosts.
The Rebels, though, hauled themselves back into the game in the early exchanges of the second half.
Campbell Magnay sprinted 40 metres through the Brumbies defence before setting up Joe Powell to cross for the try and Matt Toomua’s penalty in the 49th minute reduced the deficit to two points.
But the Brumbies powered back again, capitalising when Toomua’s kick came back off the face of Josh Kemeny inside his own 22, with Bayley Kuenzle eventually crossing the line.
A Toomua penalty reduced the deficit to six points nine minutes from time but the Rebels ultimately fell just short and now face a make-or-break meeting with the NSW Waratahs next Saturday