Reece Hodge marks one of his three attempts at the Rebels' win over the Sunwolves.
Reece Hodge scored three times in the Melbourne Rebels' win at the top of the Australian conference with a win over the Sunwolves at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
Hodge made a slow start to the season after returning from ankle surgery but a play for the defender two days ago bore fruit against the Sunwolves as he roamed the backfield and timed his support perfectly to claim three attempts and an assist in a win by 42-15.
The rebels were far from perfect, as they suffered again many penalties (16 to 5 against Melbourne) and stopped much of their own moment and possession.
Against a more experienced team, the Rebels could have been severely punished, especially at the beginning of the second half, when they were stuck in their own 20-meter line for several minutes.
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But on the day the Waratahs and Brumbies suffered losses, a win at the bonus point will leave the Rebels with a seven-point lead over the Waratahs, who will advance to Saturday's game against the Stormers at AAMI Park.
"The second week back from the tour was an amazing week for us in the past," said Rebels coach Dave Wessels.
"There were things in the game that we did not do tactically or technically, but strictly from the standpoint of attitude, I thought we were 100 percent in the right place.
"We're challenging ourselves to build a champion team at some point and that's what championship teams can do. Despite the long travel timelines and that sort of thing, they can still improve physically and mentally and we did it well tonight. "
The rebels dominated possession in the opening minutes and were on the scoreboard in six minutes when Will Genia gave a pass to Hodge, who passed the line.
Tom English broke the line at 18 minutes, before the last defender forced him to move to Hodge, who scored his second attempt and equalized the Englishman at the top of Rebels' list of top scorers.
Ryohei Yamanaka, the werewolf defender, appeared to have shown several Rebels a clean set of heels after his accelerated descent in the meantime, but Billy Meakes, full-stretch, was able to hit his ankles hard and finish him off .
Meakes 'defensive confusion was rewarded minutes later when he scored Rebels' third attempt with Sunder's unlikely defense, just a few yards from the try line, allowing Meakes to take over and score – a 19-3 advantage in just 25 minutes. reward for the home team's attack.
But in defense, the rebels were giving many penalties with a 9-3 count against them in half. All those penalties finally turned into points for visitors when powerful striker Semisi Masirewa scored in the left corner on the half-hour mark.
Then, in the half-hour, Genia made a good move across the line, finding Hodge unmarked and a few yards from his hat-trick. Unfortunately he was caught by the last defender but he still found a way to play out for Cooper, who scored under the posts and then converted to a 28-8 lead at halftime.
Masirewa went through several minutes of defense for the Rebels until the second half when he took a corner and opened the scoring for 28-15.
More penalties and poor ball retention prevented the home team for a while until Hodge smothered a shot from substitute Josh Timu then chased the ball to score his third try and made 35-15 in the 64th minute.
Genia secured the victory in the 68th minute, making a pass down a lineout 40 yards from the try line and running the perfect line through the defense to score when Cooper's conversion made 42-15.
Hugh Roach, the former frontrunner of the Waratahs, made his debut in the Rebels in the second half and victorious winger Semisi Tupou returned from the injury despite having finished the last seven minutes on the sideline after receiving a yellow card for professional fouls.
Tupou (professional foul), Nwanda Vella of Sunwolves (late hit) and Rebell back to Campbell Magnay (high tackle) were all yellow in the last eight minutes, but both defenses came when the Rebels claimed the victory.
The rebels play the Stormers at AAMI Park next Saturday