Super Aussie double as Rebels, Waratahs win
The Rebels scored four tries to three, including two intercepts for wing Andrew Kellaway, to post their second win of the season.
SYDNEY - The Melbourne Rebels survived an Highlanders fightback to record their maiden Super Rugby win in Dunedin as the Waratahs broke through for their first victory of the season on Friday.
The Rebels scored four tries to three, including two intercepts for wing Andrew Kellaway, in a hard-fought 28-22 victory for their second win of the campaign.
Meanwhile in Sydney, the Waratahs jumped quickly out of the blocks to post a big early lead before grinding out a 29-17 win over South Africa's Lions.
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.
Lentjes, 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 season-ending injury.
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 try.
Kellaway's opposite number, Josh McKay, finally got the Highlanders on the board but their woes deepened with Lentjes' departure.
Aaron Smith scored the Highlanders' second try against the run of play to make it 21-14 at half-time.
The 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 sinbinned 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.
'TOUGH FEW WEEKS'
In Sydney, the Waratahs skipped out to a 19-3 lead midway through the opening half after tries to Gus Bell, Lachlan Swinton and Jack Dempsey.
But the Johannesburg-based Lions fought back to trail 19-10 at half-time after a converted try by Marnus Schoeman.
Both teams were down a player in the first half with lock Ruben Schoeman yellow-carded for striking in a maul before Swinton was sin-binned for a shoulder charge.
The Waratahs also lost their skipper and experienced Wallaby lock Rob Simmons with an ankle injury nearing half-time.
The home side increased their lead to 24-10 with a spectacular try from James Ramm, who dived over in the corner after the ball shot through eight pairs of hands from a turnover on halfway.
But the Lions kept in touch with Schoeman's second try before the Waratahs clinched a bonus-point win with a try to Tetera Faulkner in the final minutes.
"Great win and a confidence-booster for us, it's been a tough few weeks for us, but it was really important to come out and get a win in front of our home fans," Waratahs' Wallaby back Kurtley Beale said.
Lions skipper Elton Jantjies said his team recovered well from conceding three early tries.
"We gave ourselves a chance by just staying in the game but critically a few stupid penalties went against us towards the end," he said.