Melbourne overcome Waratahs for first Super win
Melbourne playmaker Carter Gordon has delivered his best Super Rugby Pacific showing to steer his team to their first win of the season, upsetting the NSW Waratahs.
In a see-sawing affair on Friday night at AAMI Park, the Rebels scored five tries to three with Gordon picking up one himself en route to a 34-27 victory.
The Waratahs were coming off a rallying win over Fijian Drua in round two but were out-enthused by a desperate home side, who have now won three straight against NSW in Melbourne.
Coach Kevin Foote was delighted to finally see some pay for their hard work which is timely given they face the unbeaten Chiefs in Hamilton next round.
"The boys never stopped believing so when the Waratahs took the lead after halftime, just seeing our body language ... there's a lot of growth in our group so as long as they keep believing I'm going to keep believing so it's really special," he said.
The Tahs started strongly but had two tries denied within two minutes with winger Nemani Nadolo edging the sideline as he planted the ball before No.8 Langi Gleeson was ruled to have propelled himself over the line after being tackled.
Feeling luck was on their side, the Rebels rose to the occasion and scored the next three tries.
Centre Reece Hodge crossed off a Lachie Anderson kick into the in-goal and then three minutes later they swapped roles with the fullback managing to ground a Hodge kick as he dived over the sideline.
Melbourne No.8 Richard Hardwick, who has been a stand-out this season, continued his try-scoring spree for the Rebels to go in at halftime up 17-6, with Hodge missing two conversions.
However the Waratahs regrouped at the break and regained the lead 20-17 when Charlie Gamble scored their second try of the half.
With 22-year-old Gordon's passing first-rate and kicking game en pointe including a crucial 50-22 kick, the Rebels refused to lay down and were back in front with prop Matt Gibbon out-smarting the defence in the 60th minute.
Gordon's try under the posts four minutes later gave the home side some breathing space.
"I think Carter's played well this whole year," Foote said.
"I love the way he's hitting it flat and he's fit, and he's making tackles and he's going for 80 minutes."
NSW at least scored a converted try in the 80th minute through lock Taleni Seu to snatch a losing bonus point.
Coach Darren Coleman was disappointed with the Waratahs' performance but gave credit to their hosts.
"We came here with higher hopes than that, but congratulations to the Rebels - I thought they played with a lot of energy and spirit," Coleman said.
"They scored some really nice tries and kicked really well, intelligently, they put a lot of heat on our breakdown.
"So definitely the best team won ... they deserved that victory tonight."
NSW had three late withdrawals in hooker Dave Porecki (infection), winger Max Jorgensen (shoulder) and flanker/lock Ned Hanigan (knee), but Coleman believed they would be fit to travel to Wellington to face the Hurricanes.
Lock Hugh Sinclair will undergo scans on his shoulder/clavicle after being forced off late in the first half and reserve halfback Teddy Wilson suffered a head knock, ending his game.