The Reds ran in six tries to thrash the Rebels 36-20 in their basement battle in Melbourne. BRENTON CHELIN reports.
The Reds have huffed and puffed at times during their Super Rugby campaign, but in Melbourne they hit their straps and were simply too much for the Rebels to handle. They blew them away in the opening 40 minutes, and led 29-3 at the break.
The Rebels sparked to life in the second half, running in three tries of their own, but the damage had already been done. The Reds, without the injured duo of Quade Cooper and Will Genia, seemed to revel in the lack of expectation, throwing the ball around and finding holes aplenty in the hosts defence.
It was Genia's understudy, Nick Frisby, who profited from this new-found freedom, grabbing a brace in the first half. The Reds were having things all their own way as two further tries from Mike Harris and Lachie Turner secured the bonus point before the half was out.
The Rebels, sporting their indigenous jersey, gave a better account of themselves in the second half, but they couldn't stop the Reds from adding to their tally as Turner grabbed his second of the night before Rod Davies skipped through a number of tackles to secure the victory.
Mitch Inman would score after the hooter to give the Melbourne faithful something to cheer about, but the Rebels will head to South Africa at the foot of the Australian conference with little hope of overturning the deficit.
Rebels – Tries: Luke Burgess, Bryce Hegarty, Mitch Inman. Conversion: Jason Woodward. Penalty: Woodward.
Reds – Tries: Mike Harris, Nick Frisby (2), Lachie Turner (2), Rod Davies. Conversions: Mike Harris (3).
Rebels –15 Jack Debreczeni, 14 Jason Woodward, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Colby Fainga'a, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Subs: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Hugh Pyle, 20 Scott Fuglistaller, 21 Nic Stirzaker, 22 Telusa Veainu, 23 Tom Kingston.
Reds – 15 Mike Harris, 14 Rod Davies, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Anthony Fainga'a, 11 Dom Shipperley, 10 Ben Lucas, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Beau Robinson, 6 Curtis Browning, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 James Hanson, 1 James Slipper.
Subs: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 Albert Anae, 18 Ben Daley, 19 Dave McDuling, 20 Liam Gill, 21 Samuela Kerevi, 22 Jamie-Jerry Taulagi, 23 Lachie Turner.
Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images