The Melbourne Rebels posted their first away triumph in the Super rugby competition, with the newcomers winning 26-25 in a thriller against Western Force in Perth.
Melbourne Rebels chalk up first away win in Super 15
MELBOURNE // The Melbourne Rebels posted their first away triumph in the Super rugby competition, with the newcomers winning 26-25 in a thriller against Western Force in Perth.
The Rebels trailed 15-3 after 20 minutes but stunned the Force with two second-half tries in five minutes to snatch the lead before holding off the home team to collect their third victory of the season.
Force playmaker James O'Connor helped set up a try but had a forgettable night in front of the posts, missing a tough conversion that would have given his side a one-point lead with six minutes left.
"I am really proud of the boys," said the Rebels captain Stirling Mortlock. "Two wins in a row, it's an unusual feeling for us.
"I've got to take my hats off to everyone ... we've all been learning on the run and slowly but we're showing our potential."
The Force slumped to their fourth defeat in six matches and face a huge battle to remain in contention for the knock-out stages.
The Perth side charged into a 12-0 lead with two tries in the first 11 minutes but gradually lost their way.
Cameron Shepherd, the fullback, released the hooker Nathan Charles to barged through and thundered towards the line before giving the ball to lock Sam Wykes for the Force's first try in the fifth minute.
Charles then touched down for the second courtesy of smart work by O'Connor who tore through the middle on a 50 metre sprint and fed the hooker for his first try in Super rugby.
Danny Cipriani conceded a penalty after blatantly obstructing an opponent deep in Melbourne's defence but made amends two minutes later.
Cipriani dummied an outside pass then fed fullback Mark Gerrard who bolted over near the left corner for his team's first try on 21 minutes.
The fly-half Cipriani kicked two penalties to leave the Rebels trailing 15-14 at half-time and the Force crumbled after the break as they conceded tries to the lock Hugh Pyle and the winger Richard Kingi.
Pyle intercepted a speculative pass in midfield before galloping 40 metres to cross next to the post while Kingi had Cipriani's boot to thank for his effort.
The former England fly-half ignored the chance to take three points with a penalty, instead placing a deft kick on the chest of the running Kingi who then dived over in the corner.
The five-minute burst gave the Rebels a 26-18 lead with 20 minutes to play and while replacement back Rory Sidey's try ensured the match went to the wire, O'Connor's penalty in the 74th minute floated just wide.