The Rebels claimed their third victory of this year’s Super Rugby tournament as they saw off the Sunwolves 35-9 in Tokyo on Saturday.
The visitors were full value for their win, dominating for large periods, and they outscored their hosts four tries to none.
The victory moves the Rebels provisionally into joint top spot on the Australian Conference table, alongside the Brumbies who face the Stormers in Cape Town later on Saturday.
The Sunwolves’ quest for that elusive first Super Rugby triumph continues and, like their previous matches against the Lions and Cheetahs, poor defending – especially in the second half – led to their downfall.
They made most of the early attacking and opened the scoring in the third minute via a Tusi Pisi penalty.
The Rebels soaked up the early pressure and took the lead 10 minutes later – Jordy Reid rounding off in the corner, after his inside backs did well to put him into space deep inside the Sunwolves’ 22, in the build-up.
Debreczeni missed with the conversion attempt but gave his side an 8-3 lead from the kicking tee in the 27th minute, before Pisi reduced the deficit to two points via another penalty shortly afterwards.
The home side came close to scoring their opening try in the 32nd minute when, after setting up a couple of phases inside the Rebels’ 22, Keita Inagaki barged over the whitewash but his effort was disallowed by referee Mike Fraser when he failed to release the ball after being tackled.
The rest of the half was a scrappy affair characterised by several unforced errors from both sides and another Debreczeni penalty in the 37th minute gave the Rebels an 11-6 lead at the interval.
The home side started the second half like they did the first, and were soon camped inside the Rebels’ 22, but couldn’t round off as they continued to commit mistakes at critical times.
Pisi added another penalty in the 44th minute but the Rebels had their second try shortly afterwards when Jonah Placid took advantage of woeful defending and beat three defenders before offloading to Brett Meehan, who scored under the posts.
Debreczeni added another penalty, three minutes later, before Tom English exploited a gap in the Sunwolves defence and showed a superb turn of speed, from close to the hosts’ 22-metre line, before crossing for his side’s third try.
To their credit, the Sunwolves didn’t surrender and after attacking, from inside their half, they came close to scoring in the 60th minute but were kept at bay by a gallant defensive effort from the Rebels.
The visitors suffered a setback, however, when Lopeti Timani was sin-binned for a shoulder charge at a ruck in the 60th minute. Despite their numerical disadvantage, the Rebels didn’t concede any points and shortly after Timani returned, Sean McMahon barged over from close quarters for his side’s fourth five-pointer which Dan Hawkins converted.
The match petered out in the last 10 minutes as the Sunwolves tried gallantly to break the Rebels’ defensive line, but their attack lacked penetration and they had nothing to show for their efforts.
Pens: Pisi 3
Tries: Reid, Meehan, English, McMahon
Cons: Debreczeni 2, Hawkins
Pens: Debreczeni 3
Sunwolves: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Akihito Yamada, 13 Harumichi Tatekawa, 12 Yu Tamura, 11 Mifiposeti Paea, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Atsushi Hiwasa, 8 Edward Quirk, 7 Andrew Durutalo, 6 Yoshiya Hosoda, 5 Timothy Bond, 4 Hitoshi Ono, 3 Takuma Asahara, 2 Shota Horie (c), 1 Keita Inagaki.
Replacements: 16 Takeshi Kizu, 17 Masataka Mikami, 18 Shinnosuke Kakinaga, 19 Shinya Makabe, 20 Tomas leonardi, 21 Kaito Shigeno, 22 Derek Carpenter, 23 Yasutaka Sasakura.
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Jonah Placid, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Adam Thomson, 7 Sean McMahon (c), 6 Jordy Reid, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Cruze Ah Nau, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Scott Fuglistaller, 21 Nic Stirzaker, 22 Dan Hawkins, 23 Sione Tuipulotu
Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant Referees: Shuhei Kubo, Noriaki Hashimoto
TMO: Takashi Hareda