The Rebels battled hard but found themselves on the end of another big defeat at AAMI Park.
What did we glean from the clash?
1. McMahon a fresh blow
Sean McMahon had to sit on the sidelines for the first 11 rounds this season and just three weeks into his injury comeback, it looks like he’s back to where he began. An awkward tackle popped his elbow out in the dying minutes. While it’s a blow for the Rebels, it’s as much a spanner in the works for the Wallabies, who need McMahon now more than ever.
2. Score tries and stop tries
The Rebels showed they can score tries, even against strong teams, on Saturday night, but attack is just one half of rugby. It’s the other half they battled with more than anything else, slipping off Crusaders left, right and centre. The Rebels finished the game with 35 missed tackles, a stat that you’d be hard-pressed to find for a winning team.
3. Crusaders on the march
We already knew they were the real deal, but each week they remain undefeated these Crusaders go up in historic estimations. This 13th win is their best start to a year since 2002, and we all know the dynasty that came in the years after that. It’s been nine years since they last won a title, just three since they were in a decider, but the Crusaders are showing no signs of slowing down in 2017.
4. Smith a bright light
After missing the opening half of the season, Toby Smith has built his way back into 2017 nicely. The loosehead prop goes under the radar often but he has been one of the Rebels’ best this season and was again on Saturday night.
5. Rebels begging for a break.
They’ve won just one game in 12 matches so far this season and it seems every time they run out, they lose a player. And that’s just on the field. Throw in the continued off-field uncertainty that is surely only bearing down more and more on players, as no definitive call is made - even with their owners’ assurances. It’s been a long, long, long three months for Melbourne. They have just one more game before the Test break, and it can not come soon enough.