Blues v Rebels: Blues claim victory to keep up with Super Rugby Pacific leaders Hurricanes

Mark Telea of ​​the Blues celebrates with Harry Plummer. Photo / AP

The Blues remain hot on the heels of the Hurricanes following a 38-11 Super Rugby Pacific victory over the Rebels in Melbourne last night.

The Rebels hosted one of the title favorites at AAMI Park on Friday night, hours after a creditor vote on the future of the debt-ridden Melbourne team.

Instead of liquidating the club, creditors voted to accept a survival proposal from a consortium of investors, but the Rebels’ place in the 2025 competition is still far from assured.

Melbourne’s players attempted to put that aside to take on the second-placed Blues, who have suffered just one defeat in nine matches, while the Rebels came into the match fifth in the standings.

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But the class gap proved far greater than the table might have suggested, with the Blues running six tries to one, with All Blacks winger Mark Tele’a and reserve Sam Darry bagging a brace each.

Overall, the Rebels matched the Blues and judging by the stats midway through the second half, they should have been ahead.

But the visitors’ ability to convert their chances and a rock-solid defense helped them to a convincing victory in the end, helped by two late tries.

The home team trailed by just one point after an entertaining first half, soured by the loss of Test Blues Rieko Ioane in a clash of heads just before half-time.

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Melbourne lost both centre-backs David Feliuai (head) and Matt Proctor (shoulder) at the same time, both leaving after 30 minutes.

The Rebels were behind 24-11 when Blues playmaker Harry Plummer received a yellow card for a high tackle, but they were unable to take advantage of the extra man.

As the Rebels repeatedly hit the Blues’ try line and came up empty-handed, the Aucklanders ran in four tries in the second half, with Darry’s double in the 74th and 77th minutes.

Melbourne coach Kevin Foote praised his team’s character after such a difficult day for the club.

“It was huge… we kept holding on and what happened in the vote was a really good result for the club, it’s been a stressful time,” Foote said.

“I think in the first half possession and territory were 65 percent for us and then in the second half they simply escaped us.

“We didn’t get points when we were in their 22 and it hurt us a lot.

“When they got the card, that was the moment we had to go.”

Blues coach Vern Cotter said his team was “regressing” in the first half and was delighted with the way they made their statement in the second half.

“It was a tough game and the first half was a struggle and we were probably lucky to be ahead at half-time.

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“In the second half we had better intentions about the game. “I just felt like our guys did really well during the yellow card period and had a little more energy at the end of the game.”

After three straight wins, the Rebels have now lost two in a row after falling to the Crusaders in the final round.

They face the Reds in Brisbane next Friday night, while the Blues take on the Hurricanes in a top-of-the-table clash.

Cotter said that although Ioane had recovered well from the blow to the head, he would not be available for the match.