Rebels down Sunwolves for second straight Super Rugby win

The reinforced Melbourne Rebels won their second straight Super Rugby match on Saturday as Jack Maddocks claimed a hat-trick of tries against the injury-hit Sunwolves in Tokyo. The Rebels, bolstered by key off-season signings including Wallabies scrum-half Will Genia, scored five tries and a penalty try, beating the Japanese side 37-17. Rising star Maddocks scored the opening try for the Rebels after an excellent run on the left flank at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium.

The Melbourne side swiftly extended the lead as No. 8 Amanaki Mafi dived over for a try while the conversion was just missed. The Sunwolves, cheered on by the local crowd, struck back as Ryoto Nakamura booted a penalty, narrowing the gap to 10-3. The Japanese side leveled the match 10-10 after William Tupou intercepted the ball and crossed for an easy try, followed by the conversion just before half-time.

But the Rebels took back the lead early in the second half as Sefanaia Naivalu bagged a try. The Rebels secured victory as Maddocks grabbed his second and third tries with brilliant runs on the right to complete his hat-trick. Flanker Edward Quirk posted a try for the Sunwolves following a repeat of scrums but the game ended with a penalty try for the Rebels just on the final whistle.

Last week, the new-look Rebels got off to a flying start to the season, beating the Queenland Reds 45-19. Reinforced by 12 new players from the jettisoned Western Force, the Rebels set records with seven tries in their biggest match score in Super Rugby under former Force coach Dave Wessels. The Sunwolves were forced to make a number of changes to their side with Lomano Lemeki and others injured during their loss to the Brumbies last week.

The Japanese side had a horror season in the southern hemisphere’s elite club competition last year, winning just two games. They had a chastening debut season in 2016, winning only one of 15 games. The Rebels will clash with the Brumbies on March 9 in Australia, while the Sunwolves will take on the Sharks on March 10 in South Africa.

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