Rebels and Highlanders cruise to big Super Rugby wins
The Rebels stretched their lead at the top of the Australian Conference after a blistering second-half spell against the Brumbies, while there was also a big Super Rugby win for the Highlanders.
Having taken two wins and two bonus points from their first two matches of the season, Reece Hodge inspired the Rebels to make it three from three for the first time in club history with a 33-10 victory on Friday.
Chance Peni went over in the corner to hand the visitors an early lead at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, but two tries in quick succession later in the first half - from Amanaki Mafi and Hodge - turned the game in the Rebels' favour.
Although Henry Speight brought the Brumbies back into contention following the restart, another flurry of tries took the home side out of sight.
Hodge crossed for his second of the night and maintained a perfect conversion record as Jack Maddocks quickly added another on the counter, the comfortable 28-10 scoreline giving the Rebels the opportunity to chase the bonus once more.
That duly arrived when the Brumbies failed to halt another break and Michael Ruru scored a third try in seven minutes to cap the scoring.
FULL TIME | Our Melbourne Rebels go 3 from 3 for the first time in our history after a dominant second half display. Rebels 33 - 10 Brumbies. #REBvBRU-- Melbourne Rebels (@MelbourneRebels) March 9, 2018
The Highlanders emerged from a hectic start to their match with the Stormers to earn a comprehensive 33-15 win as Aaron Smith scored twice.
Four tries in the opening 20 minutes had the sides tied at 12-12, Smith drawing the hosts level after Chris van Zyl and SP Marais had cancelled out Liam Squire's opener.
Marais' 31st-minute penalty then restored the Stormers' lead, but the New Zealanders responded swiftly with a try for Waisake Naholo and the result was never in doubt from that point onwards.
Luke Whitelock stretched the Highlanders' advantage, before Smith's second try with just two minutes remaining secured the bonus bonus that takes his side to within a point of the conference-leading Crusaders.