The Melbourne Rebels are off to the best start in their history, taking a 35-9 win over the Sunwolves in Tokyo.
In just their second ever win outside of Australia, the Rebels’ bonus point victory handed them a 3-1 record from the opening four rounds, their best since joining the Super Rugby competition.
A scrappy opening half in tough conditions was marred by numerous handling errors stopping either side gain momentum.
The Rebels pressed in attack early, with Dom Shipperley falling just a metre short of the line in the eighth minute.
They continued to pressure the Sunwolves and just four minutes later Jordy Reid scored the opening try.
The Sunwolves had their chances but the Rebels defence that held strong to give the Sunwolves their first try less Super Rugby match.
Huge defensive efforts from Jonah Placid and Lopeti Timani saw the Rebels win critical turnovers on two separate occasions when the Sunwolves were within striking distance.
While Rebels flyhalf Jack Debreczeni struggled to make an impact in attack, his kicking kept the Rebels ahead, kicking two penalties to give the Rebels an 11-6 lead at the break.
The Rebels showed off their attacking flair in the second half when Ben Meehan collected a beautiful inside ball from Jonah Placid to extend the Rebels lead to 9 with 30 minutes remaining.
The play continued to open up in the second half and winger Tom English blazed away to score the Rebels’ third try, putting them in bonus point range.
Just when the Rebels threatened to run away with the game. the Sunwolves continued to persist in attack and they had their best chance when Lopeti Timani was yellow carded for a shoulder charge in the 60th minute.
The Rebels showed how dangerous they can be in attack with their back three dominating the Sunwolves defence. Shipperley, English and Placid combined for a 242 run metres and a try.
Stand-in captain Sean McMahon continued to lead from the front making 95 run metres from his 13 runs and scoring the fourth and final try for the Rebels.
The Melbourne side now sits six points ahead of the Waratahs and second in the Australian conference, behind the competition favourites, the Brumbies.