Super Rugby

Super Rugby Notebook, Apr 22: Ellison scores on and off the pitch

Tamati Ellison had double reason to cheer on Friday as he played his part in Melbourne Rebels' win over Cheetahs while his wife was giving birth to their fourth child.

Ellison reportedly discovered that his wife had gone into labour during the warm-up at AAMI Park, but turned in a fine performance, capped with a bonus point-clinching try in the closing stages.

Elsewhere, reigning champions Highlanders suffered their second straight defeat by a solitary point, going down to Sharks, having played most of the game with 14 men.



Highlanders 14-15 Sharks

The hosts in Dunedin almost picked up a battling win, despite playing 68 minutes with 14 men after Jason Emery was dismissed for a sickening, clumsy challenge on Willie le Roux. Lima Sopoaga's missed last-minute drop-goal attempt sailed wide as Sharks clung on.

Rebels 36-14 Cheetahs

Cheetahs ran out of steam at AAMI Park as the Rebels ran in 26 unanswered second-half points to continue their topsy-turvy campaign with a bonus-point success.



Having played 62 minutes with 14 men after Emery's dismissal for tackling a leaping Le Roux and sending him spinning head-first into the turf, Highlanders looked set to escape with an improbable victory.

However, with five minutes left on the clock, a bizarre decision to run a line-out from deep in their own territory resulted in Ben Smith shanking a kick from behind the try line straight out of play, allowing Sharks' fly-half Garth April the chance to boot his fifth penalty from five and seal the win.

The Rebels' third try, a breakaway effort between Cam Crawford and scorer Jonah Placid after Cheetahs coughed up possession 10 metres from the try line was key in turning the tide in the hosts' favour. 



"Are you trying to make it even now because it's a red card?" - Sharks captain Tendai Mtawarira could find himself in front of SANZAAR's disciplinary board after admonishing referee Ben O'Keefe for yellow-carding JP Pietersen, Sharks' second sin-binning of the match after Emery's red.

Highlanders number eight Liam Squire was philosophical after the game: "We definitely showed a bit of guts, down to 14, and to get that close but it was pretty disappointing at the same time.

"The boys will be eager to get back on the horse, build for this massive game against the Brumbies [next week]."



Sharks' victory keeps them in the hunt in Africa 2 Conference, but Cheetahs' hopes of reaching the Finals are now slim. Rebels are Australia's top team after their win, with Highlanders still well-placed to advance, despite defeat.