Rugby2019

Rugby: Rebels rattle Sunwolves, score 8 tries in 52-7 win

Rugby: Rebels rattle Sunwolves, score 8 tries in 52-7 win

An earthquake jolted the stands at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground on Saturday, but it was the Melbourne Rebels who did the moving and shaking on the field in a 52-7 win over the Sunwolves. The visitors showed no trouble adjusting from the Southern Hemisphere winter to Tokyo's hot and humid conditions, eventually running in eight tries to one after taking a 19-0 lead into halftime of the Super Rugby clash. (Amanaki Lelei Mafi of the Sunwolves makes a break during the Super Rugby match between Sunwolves and rebels at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground on May 25, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan.)[Getty for Sunwolves/Kyodo] The Rebels came into the match second in the Australian conference and in contention for the automatic finals berth awarded to the top team in the regional grouping, while the last-placed Sunwolves had little more than pride on the line. Newly added Japan No. 8 and former Rebel Amanaki Lelei Mafi gave the Sunwolves forward momentum with his powerful ball-carrying, but the home side repeatedly wasted chances by giving away possession too easily. The Rebels, boasting several current and former Australian Wallabies, applied the early pressure, but the home side initially held firm thanks to strong tackling inside their own 22. The visitors broke through in the 13th minute after scrumhalf Will Genia spread the ball quickly from a ruck for flanker Angus Cottrell to cross under the posts. They crossed again shortly afterward when lock Matt Philip broke the line before setting up winger Marika Koroibete inside the left touch line. The Sunwolves squandered their best chance of the opening half when the Rebels were repeatedly penalized near their own goal line, leading to consecutive lineouts at the 5-meter line. But the home side turned over possession when inside center Phil Burleigh coughed up the ball as he was tackled with the try line in sight. Sunwolves acting head coach Scott Hansen, taking charge for the final four games with Tony Brown back on national team duty, said the Tokyo-based side paid for poor decision making. "It's a fair summation to say at the moment that we're not always making the right decision with carrying the ball in the offloads," Hansen said. Koroibete scored his second five-pointer in the 28th minute when the Rebels once again spread quickly to the left from a ruck, with former Wallabies flyhalf Cooper looping a pass over the top to his winger. Genia left the game following a hard hit early in the second half. The Wallabies scrumhalf was left groggy after trying to tackle a galloping Mafi less than a minute into the half. The Sunwolves built momentum with repeated attacks into Melbourne territory, but they let the visitors off the hook with poor passing. An earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 5.1 centered in Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo could be felt in the stands early in the second half, but the action on the field continued apace as the Rebels racked up tries. Tries to Jack Maddocks and Dane Haylett-Petty stretched the Rebels' lead to 31-0 by the 58-minute mark. Sunwolves fullback Jason Emery finally gave the home crowd something to cheer in the 63rd minute when he crossed after charging down Reece Hodge's clearing kick and gathered the ball to score near the uprights. Hayden Parker added the extras to make it 31-7. But the Sunwolves try barely registered for the Rebels, who ran in further tries through Michael Ruru, Maddocks, and Jordan Uelese. Cooper finished the game with six conversions from eight. Captain Haylett-Petty said the Rebels were elated with the win, and the bonus point, following a victory overnight by the conference-leading Brumbies with just three regular-season games remaining. "We're obviously very happy. This was definitely a must-win game for us, but they probably all are at this point in the competition," said the fullback, who previously played in Japan for the Toyota Industries Shuttles.

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