The Melbourne Rebels have been outclassed by the Hurricanes in a heavy 38-13 defeat at AAMI Park.
Aiming to continue their best ever start to a Super Rugby season, the Rebels played a strong opening 10 minutes before last season’s finalists clicked into gear with 31 unanswered points to overwhelm the home side.
The Hurricanes’ potent attacking game proved too much for Melbourne to contain as they recorded a fourth consecutive bonus point victory to climb back into contention in the New Zealand Conference.
Winger Dom Shipperley opened the scoring in the ninth minute, crossing for the club’s 100th try at AAMI Park, and momentum seemed to be with the home side when Beauden Barrett’s first penalty attempt rattled off the post.
However, the All Black flyhalf sparked the visitors by slicing through the Rebels defence from the ensuing lineout to send Victor Vito over for a converted try.
A Reece Hodge penalty saw Melbourne briefly retake the lead but the Hurricanes took control with a fine counter-attacking try, former Rebel Jason Woodward gathering his own chip kick for Cory Jane to score.
Barrett’s intercept try in the 28th minute pushed the Hurricanes further ahead before Woodward burrowed over just before the main break to build a 26-8 halftime lead.
The Rebels were unable to make any inroads into the Hurricanes’ lead in the second half with Sean McMahon received a yellow card in the 50th minute, Ardie Savea taking full advantage to score their fifth try of the night.
Barrett’s second try came with five minutes remaining when his kick rebounded off replacement hooker Pat Leafa and back into his arms for a 50 metre sprint to the line.
A consolation try to Cam Crawford on full time was the lone bright spot for Melbourne in the second half with Sefanaia Naivalu, making his first start following a serious leg injury suffered in 2015, setting up the final score.
The Rebels will look to bounce back when they host the Cheetahs next Friday night.