Blues rout rabble Rebels
The Rebels have been given an attacking lesson by the Super Rugby Pacific table-topping Blues, who delivered a 71-28 thrashing in Auckland.
The Blues scored seven tries in the first half on Friday to race to an unassailable 47-14 lead, with All Blacks back row forward Akira Ioane terrorising the Rebels to bag a double.
And they did it without star All Blacks playmaker Beauden Barrett, who was rested, with youngster Stephen Perofeta at No.10.
While the Blues went into the match on top of the ladder with just one loss, the Rebels were in eighth place with their eye on the play-offs.
But that appears dead in the water with the scoreline likely putting a major dent in their points differential.
The 11-try tally just fell short of the Blues’ record of 74 points, set back in 1998.
Melbourne couldn’t have got off to a better start, with prop Pone Fa’amausili barging over for a second-minute try after a Blues line-out went awry.
And they made it 14-0 by the fifth minute when a pass by Blues scrumhalf Finlay Christie after another lineout was intercepted by young Rebels lock Josh Canham.
But the rest of the half was one-way traffic as the Blues sent wave after wave of attack at the Rebels, making easy metres over the advantage line.
Ioane scored his two tries within six minutes with the first coming after fellow All Black Hoskins Sotutu sent a long ball out to his flank.
Christie, lock James Tucker, Sotutu and Ioane’s younger brother Rieko all crossed before Mark Telea capped the stunning half.
The wing pulled off a spectacular dive to plant the ball in the corner with superboot Perofeta missing just one conversion in the half.
The Rebels lost Wallabies wing Andrew Kellaway early in the half but it was unclear if it was due to injury.
Rieko Ioane matched his brother with his second try in the 51st minute and then went one better, completing his hat-trick in the 63rd minute for a 66-14 scoreline.
Melbourne crossed for two consolation tries through flank Brad Wilkin and fullback Reece Hodge but it was still a game they’d rather forget.
For the Blues
Tries: A Ioane 2, Christie, Tucker, Sotutu, R Ioane 3, Telea, Perofeta, Clarke
Cons: Perofeta 8
For the Melbourne Rebels
Tries: Fa’amausili, Canham, Wilkin, Hodge
Cons: Hodge 4
Blues: 15 Zarn Sullivan, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii (captain), 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Tom Robinson, 4 James Tucker, 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Jordan Lay.
Replacements: 16 Soane Vikena, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Sam Darry, 20 Adrian Choat, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Bryce Heem, 23 AJ Lam.
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Reece Hodge, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Lukas Ripley, 12 Stacey Ili, 11 George Worth, 10 Carter Gordon, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Rob Leota, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Brad Wilkin, 5 Josh Canham, 4 Matt Philip (captain), 3 Pone Fa’amausili, 2 James Hanson, 1 Matt Gibbon.
Replacements: 16 Efi Ma’afu, 17 Cameron Orr, 18 Cabous Eloff, 19 Daniel Maiava, 20 Tamati Ioane, 21 Moses Sorovi, 22 Nick Jooste, 23 Glen Vaihu.
Referee: Graham Cooper
Assistant referees: Ben O’Keeffe & Jono Bredin
TMO: Aaron Paterson