The Melbourne Rebels have set up a blockbuster clash with the Waratahs in Melbourne next Friday night after smashing the Sunwolves 52-7 in a bonus point win in Tokyo.
Doubles to wings Marika Koroibete and Jack Maddocks proved significant in the teams highest ever away win, but the dominance at scrum time would have the coaching staff most pleased with the Rebels performance.
In blistering 31-degree heat, the anticipated expansive game style was put on hold as repeated scrum resets and rolling mauls saw the opposing forward packs take centre stage early on.
It would take until the fourteenth minute for the Sunwolves to crack; a flat running Matt Philip poking his nose through the defence and getting an offload away to Quade Cooper. With the defences breached, Cooper found Angus Cottrell in support for an easy stroll to the line.
The scoreboard had barely been updated when Cooper was finding holes for his teammates again. The mercurial flyhalf found Reece Hodge running a hard line and the centre located Marika Koroibete in support to double the lead.
The two teams shared the record for most yellow cards in Super Rugby this season and that stat would prove prophetic when Matt Philip was shown yellow in the twentieth minute for cynical play at the breakdown.
The numerical disadvantage wouldn’t prove too much of hindrance to the visitors when Quade Cooper floated a lovely ball over the rushing defence for an unmarked Koroibete to earn his second try of the match.
The game took a concerning development at the start of second half when the Sunwolves Phil Burleigh accidentally contacted the head of Will Genia, forcing Michael Ruru into the action sooner than many would have expected.
Not even a mini earthquake in the forty-eight minute could shake the Sunwolves into action; Jack Maddocks pouncing on a loose pill to cross underneath the black dot shortly after.
Koroibete looked set for his hat trick in the fifty-eighth minute when a triple cut out pass from Cooper unleashed the Fijian on the left edge. With the try line beckoning, Koroibete unselfishly handed it off to Dane Haylett-Petty and the captain was in.
Not to be outdone by his opposite number, Sunwolves fullback Jason Emery was rewarded for his pressure on Reece Hodge’s attempted exit kick, charging down the Rebels centre and recollecting for the hosts opening try.
The Rebels turned to their scrum to reassert their dominance with the replacement front row of Uelese, Faulkner and Ainsley generating penalties at will. When Richard Hardwick was brought down centimetres short after picking up off the back of a five-metre scrum, Ruru plucked the ball off the ground and dotted in down for another five points.
Ruru would turn provider soon after; finding Maddocks on a crash ball that marked the wings seventh try in four games against the men from Tokyo.
Not content with a record away win for the Club, Jordan Uelese ushered in his return to top flight rugby with a try after the siren off the back of a rolling maul to close out proceedings.
Tries: Cottrell, Koroibete (2), Maddocks (2), D. Haylett-Petty, Ruru, Uelese
Conversions: Cooper (6)