Wing Marika Koroibete scored a hat-trick as the Rebels claimed a 40-13 bonus-point win over the Sunwolves in Melbourne on Friday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
Different venue, same result. In the corresponding fixture in March, the Rebels beat the Sunwolves 37-17 in Tokyo. In that game, right wing Jack Maddocks grabbed a hat-trick, and while he scored a brace again today, it was left wing Koroibete who shredded the visitors this time.
Considering the Sunwolves’ excellent form in recent weeks – resulting in consecutive wins against the Reds and Stormers – this victory will be particularly pleasing for Rebels coach Dave Wessels.
The result sees them – provisionally – take the last wildcard playoff spot from the Sharks in eighth position on the overall log and moves them to within a point of the Waratahs at the top of the Australian conference.
Notwithstanding the defeat, there were some encouraging signs for the Sunwolves, who came into this clash with only five survivors from the game against the Stormers. The rest of last week’s match-day squad, as well as coach Jamie Joseph, skipped the trip to Australia to attend a national training camp.
The visitors started strongly, working their way into the Rebels’ 22 with an eight-phase attack before spreading the ball out wide, where Koroibete was caught coming in off his wing, allowing his opponent Lomano Lemeki to run into acres of space for the first try.
However the Rebels – and Koroibete in particular – hit straight back when Billy Meakes punched through the Sunwolves defence and released Koroibete, who ran a support line on his outside shoulder.
Both teams were expansive but very error-prone in a frenetic start to the opening quarter. But it would be the Rebels who settled into a rhythm quicker. They were rewarded when Maddocks and No 8 Amanaki Mafi crashed over in quick succession. Reece Hodge, playing flyhalf for the first time this season, nailed all three conversions as the Rebels opened up a 21-3 lead.
Parker kicked two penalties to get the Sunwolves into double figures just before the break, but they were swept aside in the second half.
Maddocks completed his brace soon after the restart, before Koroibete scored his second and third tries.
The Sunwolves finished strongly, dominating territory and possession, but were unable to unlock the Rebels’ defence.
Rebels – Tries: Marika Koroibete (3), Jack Maddocks (2), Amanaki Mafi. Conversions: Reece Hodge (5).
Sunwolves – Try: Lomano Lemeki. Conversion: Hayden Parker. Penalties: Parker (2).
Rebels – 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Tom English, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Reece Hodge, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Adam Coleman (c), 4 Matt Philip, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Fereti Sa’aga.
Subs: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Pone Fa’amausili, 19 Geoff Parling, 20 Lopeti Timani, 21 Harrison Goddard, 22 Tayler Adams, 23 Sefa Naivalu.
Sunwolves – 15 Jason Emery, 14 Lomano Lemeki, 13 Michael Little, 12 Ryoto Nakamura, 11 Hosea Saumaki, 10 Hayden Parker, 9 Keisuke Uchida, 8 Edward Quirk, 7 Shunsuke Nunomaki, 6 Grant Hattingh, 5 Shinya Makabe, 4 James Moore, 3 Jiwon Koo, 2 Jaba Bregvadze, 1 Craig Millar (c).
Subs: 16 Atsushi Sakate, 17 Keita Inagaki, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Sam Wykes, 20 Rahboni Warren Vosayaco, 21 Kaito Shigeno, 22 Harumichi Tatekawa, 23 Semisi Masirewa.
Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images