Super Rugby Pacific news | Fight top eight berth down to the wire after Melbourne Rebels belt Western Force
The Western Force have had their Super Rugby Pacific finals hopes hampered after a demoralising defeat to the Melbourne Rebels.
The home side scored eight tries to two, romping home to a 52-14 win.
The bonus-point win keeps the Rebels in contention for a top eight berth with one round remaining, moving them from 16 points to 21.
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The Force came into the second-to-last round of the season in eighth but fell to ninth after the Highlanders triumphed over the Queensland Reds.
The loss ensured the Force remain ninth.
Down in 11th, the Fijian Drua remain a chance of cracking the top eight should they take a bonus-point win over Moana Pasifika.
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That would take them from 17 points to 22 and put them level with the Highlanders in eighth with one round remaining.
The teams on the bubble all have tough contests to come.
Unstoppable force breaks through for Rebels
The Highlanders take on the Blues, the Rebels go against the Brumbies, the Fijian Drua take on the Reds, and the Force look to upset the Chiefs.
The Force are yet to win a game away from home this season.
Friday’s win was a record-setter for the Rebels, marking their highest score in Super Rugby Pacific history and the most tries.
It was a fairytale final appearance at home for Reece Hodge, who eclipsed Tom English’s club record of 98 appearances.
“It was huge,” said head coach Kevin Foote.
“First of all, Tom English, to take over his record, Tom is a champion guy and now Hodgey comes in and he’s the most capped Rebel.
“I didn’t need too much motivation to speak of his character, how much he gives to the club, and if we can all mirror that, we’re going to go well.
“Very, very proud of Reece and proud to have coached him. From my own perspective and all the staff coaching people like that makes it really special.”
The Western Force boasts one of the best records at home but have been lacking away.
Head coach Simon Cron lamented giving away possession and fundamental breakdowns.
“We’re 19-7 down at one point and we kick to the corner and gave the ball back rather than building point pressure,” he said.
“There’s a lot in that game that we looked at. Set-piece-wise, we weren’t good today.
“Then we jump out of process. We start playing and kicking the ball away four or five times when we haven’t had it.
“Just some hold habits sinking in there.”
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