The Brumbies have emphatically broken a two-year losing run against the Rebels with a 39-26 victory on Friday night.
In their first win over the Rebels since 2017, the Brumbies burst out of the blocks and continued to set the marker in the Australian conference.
For a Melbourne side hunting for redemption after last week’s Japanese loss, Friday night had more positives but still left them with plenty of head-scratching to do.
Four first half tries in the first half hour opened up a big gap for the Brumbies but the Rebels worked their way back into the contest, led by skipper Dane Haylett-Petty.
Rookie Brumbies flyhalf Noah Lolesio produced another incredibly composed performance, setting up two tries and snapping a drop goal late in the game in an intelligent showing.
Centre Irae Simone was also influential, in a game where the Brumbies backline found themselves on the front foot more often than not.
The Brumbies found none of the issues in the front row that they had against the Reds in round one, quickly piling the pressure on the Rebels in set piece.
Melbourne had themselves to blame for lost opportunities as well, with a mounting penalty and turnover count hurting the visitors.
Where the Rebels found themselves frustrated by basic mistakes, the Brumbies made their half chances stick in the opening 30 minutes particularly.
Simone made the most of the Brumbies’ early advantage in the fifth minute, fooling through the Melbourne defence with a dummy and bursting through the line.
Tom Banks made it two tries in 12 minutes, finishing off an out the back pass from Noah Lolesio to cross the line.
Rebels flyhalf Matt To’omua was taking it upon his own shoulders to try and create something attack and defence, making some pivotal tackles and putting in place a dangerous grubber to set up Melbourne’s best chance of the opening 20 minutes.
New ACT winger Solomone Kata fended off Reece Hodge with ease and offloaded to Simone who found flanker Tom Cusack for the Brumbies’ third.
Kata went one better than an assist off the ACT’s next chance, after no. 8 Pete Samu burst down the middle of the field to create an opportunity from nothing.
A clever kick from Lolesio bounced up into Kata’s hands and the ex-NRL back finished with ease.
Despite all of the momentum going against them, the Rebels clawed their way back in the final minutes of the half and Angus Cotrell managed to clinch a five-pointer to peg back some of the margin.
Cottrell finished off a perfect start to the second half for the Rebels, powering over in the 41st minute.
The Rebels were forced into a backline reshuffle with the replacement of Hodge and To’omua early in the game.
Billy Meakes was pushed into the key playmaking spot with Frank Lomani on the wing and Campbell Magnay shifting into the centres.
The absence of Hodge and To’omua became more obvious as the game went on, most noticably because of their lack
The Brumbies surprised the Rebels at the lineout with Allan Alaalatoa wrapping around the line and offloading to Folau Fainga’a to score.
It looked like Anaru Rangi had returned the favour just minutes later but a spot-on call from the TMO ruled the score offside.
Haylett-Petty, though, made it second time lucky with a spectacular solo try, making the equation 10 points, capping off a strong outing for the Rebels captain.
A Lolesio drop goal kept the Brumbies score ticking over and a Simone kick opened the chance for Tom Wright to gather the ball and notch their fifth try.
Lomani finished off a slick Rebels chain to score in the 78th minute but the clock beat them out of any chance of a comeback.
Both sides appeared to have some injury concerns with Tom Cusack and Scott Sio replaced for head knocks and To’omua and Hodge exiting early for the Rebels.
The Brumbies take on the Highlanders in their third round match next weekend while the Rebels face the Waratahs on Friday night.
Tries: Simone, Banks, Cusack, Kata, Fainga’a, Wright
Cons: Lolesio 3
Tries: Cottrell 2, D Haylett-Petty, Lomani
Cons: To’omua, Lomani
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Solomone Kata, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Tom Wright, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Murray Douglas, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 Harry Lloyd, 18 James Slipper, 19 Nick Frost, 20 Will Miller, 21 Ryan Lonergan, 22 Bayley Kuenzle, 23 Andy Muirhead
Rebels: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Marika Koroibete, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Andrew Kellaway, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Michael Wells, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Ruan Smith, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Matt Gibbon
Replacements: 16 Steve Misa, 17 Cameron Orr, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Rob Leota, 21 Richard Hardwick, 22 Ryan Louwrens, 23 Campbell Magnay
Brumbies v Melbourne Rebels
@ GIO Stadium
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant referees: Damon Murphy (Australia), Jordan Way (Australia)
TMO: Ian Smith (Australia)