Rebels to rally at home with Super finals beckoning

The Melbourne Rebels recognise the huge challenge of stopping the rampant Chiefs but also see the opportunity that comes with playing their last Super Rugby Pacific match at home, possibly ever.

Melbourne host the third-placed Chiefs at AAMI Park on Friday night still uncertain if the financially stricken club will be shut down by Rugby Australia (RA) at the end of the season.

Threatened legal action against RA by Rebels directors attempting to save the club has contributed to a delay in the decision.

Now coach Kevin Foote is looking for the same fight from his sixth-placed team, who are desperate to lock in a maiden finals berth with a win.

"There's probably no decision because of the fight that the directors of the consortium have shown. I don't think anyone's expecting such fight coming out of Victoria and we're proud of them, fighting for us every single day," Foote said on Thursday.

"You ask for these sort of opportunities as a leader and when they come you better stand up, so it's real for us.

"Destiny on Friday night is in our hands and that's what we're looking at, we're not worried about Rugby Australia."

Melbourne have had a mid-season wobble, losing their last three matches, while the Chiefs have won three straight by an average of 33.7 points - the Waikato outfit averaging more tries per game than any other team.

The Rebels will be without Wallabies fullback Andrew Kellaway due to concussion symptoms, but former captain Brad Wilkin returns after hamstring surgery in March.

Jake Strachan will start at No.15 in place of Kellaway.

Foote said he felt the team had prepared well for the game.

"The Chiefs are such a good team and they play an awesome brand of rugby and they've brought a good team with them," he said.

"But we've trained so well and the guys are so focused at the moment, which is a real privilege to be coaching them and and I think we've grown quite substantially from the Crusaders to the Blues to the Reds around our mindset and how we want to attack these games.

"We've just got to control the tempo at the beginning of the game and make sure we're playing our style of rugby."

Melbourne have recently rallied to win their last home game of the season - in 2023 beating the Western Force 52-14 and a 31-30 win over the Highlanders in 2022 - so Foote is hopeful they can produce again.

"We're playing at home and it means so much to so many people, this game," he said.

"We've put up a really good performance the last two years and you can just see from the captain's run how focused and how motivated the guys are."

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