Melbourne seek Super Rugby finals after Fiji romp

Melbourne have roared home in the second half to secure a rousing 41-20 victory over Fijian Drua and keep their first Super Rugby Pacific finals berth in sight.

The Rebels trailed 20-15 at halftime at AAMI Park on Friday night, but with star five-eighth Carter Gordon calling the shots they scored tries in the  41st and 45th minutes to swing the momentum their way.

The six-try bonus-point victory sent the Rebels up the ladder into rare air in fourth spot.

Looking to peg back the five-point halftime deficit, winger Glen Vaihu collected a long cut-out pass from Gordon to cross before flanker Maciu Nabolakasi came up trumps after a rolling maul.

Vaihu added his second after 53 minutes to push the lead out to 34-20.

When the Drua lost former Rebels halfback Frank Lomani to a red card soon after for a deliberate foul when he elbowed the head of lock Josh Canham, the visitors' fate appeared sealed.

Melbourne went hunting a bonus point and with Gordon putting on some big hits in defence and a huge shift by star prop Taniela Tupou off the bench, the Rebels extended their lead.

Gordon fired a pass out to Filipo Daugunu, who had moved out from the centres to the wing, and he scooted down the sideline to touch down.

Carter Gordon (left) of the Melbourne Rebels.
Carter Gordon (left) called the shots as the Rebels rallied to beat Fijian Drua.

The Fijians, who had won their last two matches, grew frustrated and Jone Koroiduadua joined Lomani on the bench when he was red-carded after attempting to head-butt Rebels hooker Alex Mafi.

Rebels stand-in skipper Sam Talakai said a yellow card to Drua lock Ratu Rotuisolia, for a dangerous tackle on Gordon, and subsequent try to Melbourne hooker Jordan Uelese on the stroke of halftime proved the turning point.

"They got the yellow card and then we as a pack took it upon ourselves to get that result just on halftime," Talakai said.

"When we went into the sheds, we kind of knew we'd got the upper-hand. Five minutes after that we got two tries and got confidence - then we finished it off."

Fiji coach Mick Byrne said his team were unable to regroup after giving up 21 points in double-quick time.

"They came out full of energy and we got what we deserved in the second half," Byrne said.

"There was definitely frustration there but that's no excuse. I apologise to the people back home for the two red cards, which were costly.

"The players need to find it in themselves to sort their discipline out if we want to get our season back on track."

Melbourne face the Highlanders next Saturday night at AAMI Park looking for their third win on the trot, and are set to have game-breaking fullback Andrew Kellaway back from a broken rib.

Talakai said the Rebels had identified this three-game stretch as key to their season.

"We said this was a really important block for us but within that we have to isolate each week," he said. 

"This week was about the Drua.

"We're not 100 per cent where we want to be and we're still building, but we're also getting these wins along the way.

"Two down and we've got the Highlanders next week. That's a really important one before we head into the bye."

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