Rebels vs Sunwolves: Five things we learned

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

A strong second half was all the Rebels needed against the Sunwolves, kicking clear to claim a big win.

Here's what we learned from the 40-13 result.

1. Hodge's best position remains a mystery

Reece Hodge started at flyhalf for the first time in his Super Rugby career and while there were a few nice touches throughout the night, it certainly wasn't a masterclass.

Billy Meakes and Dane Haylett-Petty stepped into first receiver at times and while Hodge may grow into an elite 10, he looks a more natural centre at this point in his career.

2. Maddocks makes his mark

Jack Maddocks is entering must pick territory when Wallabies coach Michael Cheika names his June Test squad on Wednesday.

He scored two tries, saved another and looks a class above every time he gets his hands on the ball.

He may not even make Cheika's best 23 but he would certainly be worth a look at the game's highest level prior to The Rugby Championship.

3. Mafi must spread wings

Amanaki Mafi was well held by the Sunwolves. Photo: Getty ImagesThere were five or six Mafi carries in which he could have passed to a player in a better position and didn't - killing the flow of the Melbourne attack.

In Mafi's defence he has long carried the Rebels forward pack but he is no longer a lone soldier and must carry the ball in both hands, adding some unpredictability to his game.

4. Rebels controlling own destiny

The win over the Sunwolves was Melbourne's sixth of the season - just one win away from the franchise record of seven.

Falling short of that mark would have made for a disappointing year but they now sit 7th on the overall ladder and while there are still five games to be played this weekend, the fact is they remain in control of their own destiny.

A trip to Eden Park to face the Blues awaits before the June break before they face the Tahs at home, the Reds in Brisbane and the Highlanders in Dunedin.

At their best they can win all four of those games but there is a big gap between their best and their worst rugby.

The showdown with the Tahs shapes as a pivotal clash, with NSW currently just one point ahead of Melbourne atop the Australian Conference.

5. Koroibete coming home strong

Marika Koroibete is in fine form. Photo: Getty ImagesMarika Koroibete hasn't been at his best all season but he is really warming into his work now.

A hat trick on the left wing was reward for improved defence - stopping several Sunwolves attacking raids at exactly the right time.