Melbourne have overcome a gritty Western Force to end their Super Rugby losing streak with a 27-22 victory at AAMI Park.
Despite three successive losses, the Rebels were expected to dominate the struggling Force, who were without injured workhorse skipper Matt Hodgson.
But the visitors made it a long Sunday afternoon for Melbourne, who only managed to break a 15-15 deadlock in the 59th minute.
Rebels winger Sefa Naivalu scored two second-half tries in his best showing of the season.
Melbourne’s attack plans were thrown into disarray early when five-eighth Mike Harris suffered a hamstring injury, throwing his recall to the Wallabies’ series against England into doubt.
Harris left the field immediately after setting up the Rebels’ first try by centre Reece Hodge, who has set a club record of eight tries in a season despite missing three games through injury.
The Force hit back just four minutes later with a superb effort by Luke Morahan, who also scored in the second half.
The winger leapt above the Rebels to gather a kick down-field by five-eighth Peter Grant.
He chipped ahead, then managed to collect the ball and dive across in the corner.
That try gave the Force an 8-7 lead, which Hodge reclaimed for his side through a penalty.
Naivalu crossed for his first two minutes into the second half but again the Force responded as they drove the ball from a line-out before hooker Harry Scoble scrambled across.
Hard-running lock Lopeti Timani and Naivalu, who chimed in with his second try, blew out the lead to 27-15 before Morahan’s late effort.
The Rebels trail the front-running Brumbies and Waratahs by seven points in the Australian conference.