Rebels go down fighting

Super Rugby
AAP
by AAP

Melbourne Rebels have slumped to their 11th successive Super Rugby loss in South Africa, going down 45-25 to the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

The defeat means the Rebels have never won in South Africa and it was a disappointing display on the back of last week's encouraging round one win over the Western Force.

A hat-trick from Bjorn Basson laid the foundation for the Bulls' comfortable win against the under-strength visitors who were without Reece Hodge (quad) who scored two tries on debut last week.

Also missing were captain Nic Stiraker (shoulder), Mike Harris (quad), and flanker Colby Faingaa (elbow).

In balmy conditions, the Bulls came racing out of the blocks, and in the 11th minute they caught the Rebels napping as Basson darted over to score.

Adam Thompson had a glorious chance to hit back almost immediately but the Rebels flanker fumbled the ball over the try line when it looked easier to score.

That disappointment was compounded when the Bulls scored quickfire tries through Nick de Jager, Travis Ismaiel and Jannes Kirsten before halftime to open up a 28-3 lead at the break.

After the restart Basson completed his hat-trick with Francois Brummer converting his fifth and sixth successful conversions and a penalty to open up a 45-3 lead.

The Rebels showed some spirit with four unanswered tries - through Jonah Placid, James Hanson and a brace from Ben Meehan.

But It was a case of too little too late as the Bulls comfortably held on for their first victory of the new Super Rugby season.

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