The Melbourne Rebels have retained top spot on the Australian Conference after a devastating 42-15 victory over the Sunwolves at AAMI Park.
Some creativity around set piece and a hat-trick to Reece Hodge proved decisive, as the Melburnians piled on 6 tries to secure the bonus point win.
Early field position was gifted to the Rebels when a wayward Sunwolves kick found touch on the full.
Camped in the oppositions 22, the Melburnians turned down numerous opportunities for an easy three points on offer in search of a higher prize. Koroibete was a man on a mission, topping the carry count early with some damaging runs.
Off the back of one of his carries, Will Genia found Reece Hodge running a hard line and the fullback crossed the chalk for the opening score. Sunwolves sharpshooter Hayden Parker responded with a penalty after repeated Rebels infringements inside their own 22. Reece Hodge was in again when a scrum move started on halfway was distributed to a wide running Tom English on the left edge.
The number thirteen beat his man for speed on the outside shoulder and laid it on a platter for Hodge when confronted by the last defender.
The next halfway scrum wielded the same outcome, albeit from a different source. Standing at first receiver, Quade Cooper put through a deft grubber for a rampaging Billy Meakes. A miscue in the Sunwolves backfield between half Keito Shigeno and Yamanaka saw Meakes collect the spilt ball for the score. Fresh off a hat-trick against the Waratahs last week, Sunwolves wing Semisi Masirewa looked to spark the visitors into a response whilst they were still within howling distance of the Rebels.
His solo effort from five metres out was desperately held up by English, but it mattered little as he crossed less than a minute later in the left corner after a neat scrum move.
Unbelievably, Hayden Parker’s missed conversion ended a streak of 28 successful kicks this year for the flyhalf. The set piece was proving fruitful for the Melburnians, as the final play of the half gifted them yet another scrum on halfway.
This time it was Meakes punching holes in the midfield and finding a thankful Genia in support. The little number nine couldn’t find the line himself, but a quick interplay of passing between Hodge and Cooper saw the flyhalf add the Rebels fourth try to round out an impressive half.
The Sunwolves response was swift. Two minutes into the second half and Masirewa was found alone on the left edge.
The try scoring machine showed fast feet to launch a fifty-metre solo effort that brought the scores back to 28-15.
The momentum appeared to be turning with only desperate defence keeping the Sunwolves out time and time again - Mark Abbott first held up in goal and Grant Hatting moments later. In times of pressure the Rebels were able to escape in part due to an industrious lineout that saw multiple steals from Coleman and Jones, to name a few.
By the 62nd minute Hodge had his hat-trick, with a successful charge down of Sunwolves fullback Josh Timu regathered for another five points.
The momentum had well and truly been arrested when Genia received the ball at the back of a lineout on halfway and dummied to replacement Semisi Tupou before slicing into the backfield. With his support runners all blocked by men in red, Genia had no option but to pin the ears back and go for the line himself to the delirium of the crowd.
Rebels 42 Tries:
Hodge (3), Meakes, Cooper, Genia
Conversions: Cooper (6)
Tries: Masirewa (2)