The NSW Waratahs have burst the Melbourne Rebels' bubble to revive their Super Rugby season with a dazzling 51-27 comeback win over the Australian conference leaders.

The Rebels' first loss of the season leaves the Highlanders as the last remaining unbeaten team in the competition.

The Waratahs overcame searing heart and a 17-point deficit with a spectacular second-half try-scoring blitz to abruptly end the Rebels' unbeaten start to 2018.

The Tahs piled on five unanswered tries in 20 minutes to stun the Rebels and snap their own two-game winless run in front of their enraptured home fans at Allianz Stadium.


Israel Folau led the fightback, the Wallabies superstar setting up crucial five-pointers for Rob Simmons, Bryce Hegarty and Taqele Naiyaravoro after leaping high to collect three midfield bombs following his move to the wing on Sunday.

Lalakai Foketi and debutant halfback Mitch Short also crossed as the hosts' big win kept the Waratahs within touch of the runaway Rebels in the keenly-contested Australian conference. A loss would have been disastrous for Daryl Gibson's side.

And defeat looked very much on the cards after the Rebels charged to a 20-3 lead through first-half tries to Tom English, Amanaki Mafi and Jack Maddocks.

But, after a sloppy start in temperatures in excess of 35 degrees, Foketi's strike a minute before the break ignited the Waratahs' comeback.

Naiyaravoro completed it with his second five-pointer of the half in the final minute.