Rugby: Rebels suffer more heartbreak

The Melbourne Rebels suffered more heartbreak last night as they blew a halftime lead for the third straight week to fall to Queensland 23-13 in their Super Rugby clash.

Hard-running centre Lachlan Mitchell scored after the halftime siren to hand his side a 13-10 lead at the break but the Reds steamed back to secure their third successive victory and their fifth straight against the Rebels.

Melbourne's only win of the season was in round one against the Force when they trailed at halftime; they also lost when the Brumbies and NSW came from behind.

The Rebels' chance of a late fightback suffered a setback when a penalty kick, about to be taken by Wallabies star James O'Connor, was reversed by Argentine referee Francisco Pastrana on the advice of Television Match Official George Ayoub, who nabbed hooker Ged Robinson for over-vigorous rucking.

The Reds looked to have scored immediately down the other end through fullback Jono Lance, however he somehow failed to get the ball down.

Three missed penalty kicks by stand-in skipper O'Connor also proved crucial and put a dampener on his 50th Super Rugby appearance.

The Reds were quick to put the knife into the Rebels' second-half hopes with halfback Nick Frisby, in his first start in the No.9 jersey, scoring after some good lead-up work by centre Anthony Faingaa, in his first game this season after a hand injury.

Quade Cooper converted from the sideline and then a penalty kick at the 60-minute mark pushed the lead out to 20-10.

With a couple of breaks out wide and some fierce tackling, Rebels No.8 Scott Higginbotham did his best to rally the team in his first outing against his former side.

But the Rebels lost momentum following the Lance no-try.

But they delivered an impressive first half, with Mitchell's try well deserved.

Electing for another scrum five metres from the tryline rather than a penalty shot, the Rebels attacked the line before halfback Nick Phipps found the hard-working O'Connor.

He held the ball up long enough for Mitchell to run the perfect line, scooting between defenders to touch down.

Queensland's first-half try was scored by centre Ben Tapaui.

A penalty kick by Cooper with just over a minute remaining compounded the misery for the Rebels, who missed out on a bonus point for finishing within seven points.

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