Blues rout rabble Rebels
Melbourne have failed to stop the New Zealand rout of Australian sides, crashing to the Blues in their opening round Super Rugby Trans-Tasman clash.
Despite a new coach at the helm, with assistant Kevin Foote stepping up after Dave Wessels’ departure, it was more of the same from the Rebels, who missed the Super Rugby AU play-offs after finishing fourth.
Wallabies wing Marika Koroibete’s try-scoring drought continued with Melbourne failing to get across the line in Melbourne – as the Blues posted a thumping 50-3 victory.
Blues No.8 Hoskins Sotutu scored two early second-half tries to effectively put the game out of the Rebels’ reach by the 56th minute.
The match then opened up, with the Blues running rampant to finish with six tries, with replacement back Akira Ioane also finishing with a double
Loosehead prop Karl Tu’inukuafe terrorised his opposite Cabous Eloff and the Rebels pack in the opening stanza, earning four scrum penalties.
Dominating possession and territory, the visitors also forced errors in the Melbourne attack through their lightning line-speed.
Each side was unlucky not to score through the first half with an early effort by Bryce Heem called back for a Rieko Ioane knock-on.
Melbourne then missed a deserved penalty try when hooker Jordan Uelese’s would-be score was illegally thwarted by Adrian Choat, who was yellow-carded.
The Blues took their chances and skipper Tom Robinson was ready and waiting for a long floating pass from five-eighth Otere Black to score right on half-time for a 17-3 lead.
Any hopes of a home side fightback were snuffed out by Sototu’s early second-half efforts as the Blues iced an impressive display across the park.
For the Melbourne Rebels
For the Blues
Tries: Robinson, Sotutu 2, A Ioane 2, Lam
Cons: Black 2, Plummer 2
Pens: Black 3, Sullivan
Yellow card: Adrian Choat (Blues, 37)
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Tom Pincus, 14 Frank Lomani, 13 Stacey Ili, 12 Campbell Magnay, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Matt To’omua, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Josh Kemeny, 5 Ross Haylett-Petty, 4 Rob Leota, 3 Cabous Eloff, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Cameron Orr.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Lucio Sordoni, 19 Steve Cummins, 20 Michael Icely, 21 James Tuttle, 22 Carter Gordon, 23 Lachie Anderson.
Blues: 15 Zarn Sullivan, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 AJ Lam, 10 Otere Black, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Adrian Choat, 6 Tom Robinson (captain), 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Marcel Renata, 2 Kurt Eklund, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Replacements: 16 Soane Vikena, 17 Ofa Tuungafasi, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Jacob Pierce, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Mark Telea.
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant referees: Amy Perrett, Reuben Keane
TMO: Ian Smith