Rebels fall to Hurricanes but Savea in spotlight
Captain Ardie Savea has led the Hurricanes to a heart-stopping Super Rugby Pacific win over Melbourne, apologising after the match for threatening a Rebels player with a throat-slitting gesture.
The Hurricanes edged a fearless Rebels outfit 39-33 in their Super Round clash at AAMI Park on Friday night, delivering another tight loss for the home side from two games.
Richard Hardwick scored twice within seven minutes for Melbourne to trail by just a point but a 77th minute try by Hurricanes ace Jordie Barrett sealed the win.
Savea was both hero and villain, scoring two early tries and setting up another as the visitors roared to a 24-7 halftime lead.
But then the All Blacks weapon was given a yellow card for his involvement in an all-in brawl just before break.
As he walked off, a fired-up Savea gestured to Melbourne halfback Ryan Louwrens, prompting teammate Reece Hodge to complain to referee James Doleman, 'he's threatening to kill him'.
It's unclear if Savea will face further penalty from SANZAAR.
Savea said he apologised to Louwrens and also had to answer to his father Masena, who called him immediately after the match.
"It's just the heat of the moment, it's a warrior game but I've got to lead by example, being skip, so I got that wrong," Savea told journalists.
"There was a bit of banter going on and it got the better of me.
"I got off the field and my old man called me and kind of growled me off so that's a lesson learnt.
"I understand the role I play with the kids watching the games ... it doesn't excuse what I did but we make mistakes and hopefully I grow and learn from it."
Despite the loss, Rebels coach Kevin Foote was proud of his group for their fightback after trailing 24-7 at halftime.
"I'm so proud of this group - there was huge fight which is something we've been speaking about for a long time as a club and couldn't be prouder at this moment," Foote said.
"We will take a lot of confidence from that."
The Hurricanes were down to 13 men when reserve prop Tevita Mafileo was yellow-carded just two minutes into the half, with his sloppy clean-out then upgraded to a red card by the Television Match Official in a new competition rule.
With the spite draining out of the match Melbourne were first on the board in the second half with winger Lachie Anderson winning the race to a kick by young five-eighth Carter Gordon into the in-goal.
Gordon himself then picked up a five-pointer after he scooped up a loose Hurricanes ball and raced more than 70 metres, chased all the way by Savea.
Hodge added the extras to close the gap to 24-19 after 56 minutes.
The Hurricanes kicked away again with Barrett booting a penalty and then firing a pass for flying winger Salesi Rayasi to dive across in the corner.
Hardwick's efforts gave the Rebels hope but the Hurricanes held on to savour their second Australian scalp after accounting for the Reds in round one.