1. Bonus points keep it interesting
The Rebels’ late flurry of tries made the scoreline look better for the travelling team but it also stole a bonus point from the Bulls. The Pretoria team had six tries to nil just six minutes into the second half, before the Rebels started racking up the points. Under the new bonus point system ,the Bulls would have needed one more try to score three more five-pointers than their opponents and claim the extra point.
2. Meehan stepping up
Rebels captain Nic Stirzaker was touted as a Wallabies contender for 2016 but his start to the season has been pushed back with injury. Ben Meehan has filled the void with impressive form to kick off the year and was again a standout in Pretoria, with a brace of tries in the win. While you’d expect Stirzaker to walk back into their starting XV, Meehan will at the very least provide immense comfort coming off the bench
3. Wheel of fortune swings against the Rebels
This was a week of unfortunate events for Melbourne as players succumbed one by one to injury. MIke Harris (quad) , Colby Fainga’a (elbow) and Nic Stirzaker (shoulder) were the first, already making the South African trip a more difficult prospect. The extra twist in that injury knife was the loss of boom rookie Reece Hodge (quad) in the final countdown to their Bulls match. Hodge starred across three separate backline positions in the opening round and the Rebels will be hoping it’s not another bout of bad news.
4. Forget Bermuda, it’s the South African triangle for the Rebels
A South African win still eludes the Melbourne Rebels after 11 attempts in the club’s lifetime. Injuries and recovering from a draining game in Perth last weekend were always going to make it difficult for the Rebels. It proved to be just a touch too far for the Rebels to jump, though the side showed plenty of character to claw the margin back as the game went on.
5. Chibba the real deal
The signing of James Hanson after 2015 is already proving to be an astute recruiting move for the Rebels. The former Queensland Reds hooker scored his first Rebels try overnight and was one of Melbourne’s most influential players.