Sunwolves vs Rebels: Five things we learned

1. Brilliant back three

The second half really opened up for the Melbourne Rebels and it was their back three that ran rampant. A Tom English, Dom Shipperley and Jonah Placid combined for 258 run metres and were all pivotal to the victory for the Rebels as they continually broke the line. English scored one of the four tries and there’s no doubting Michael Cheika will be taking a keen interest in the in-form winger as the Wallabies prepare to face his namesake.

2. Desperate defence

It was a tight contest in the opening half but whenever the Sunwolves were charging in attack the Rebels’ defence held strong.Jonah Placid and Lopeti Timani put their bodies on the line, with some last-line defence, snatching turnovers when the Sunwolves were just a metre out from the try line.

3. Meehan the man?

He’s supposed to be the stand-in halfback but Ben Meehan will be giving coach Tony McGahan the best kind of headache in weeks to come. Meehan has stepped up in the opening four rounds of the Super Rugby season in the absence of Nic Stirzaker. Meehan continued to impress against the Sunwolves, feeding his backs with quick ball and was continually dangerous with his box kicks. McGahan will have a tough decision to make next week after Stirzaker made a successful return off the bench today.

4. History made

History was made in Tokyo today as the Rebels became the first Australasian Super Rugby team to play the Sunwolves. The Japanese side held their own in the opening 40 minutes before the match opened up to the Rebels’ favour. The Rebels took home the first Ganbatte Trophy between the two sides, and just their second win outside of Australia in 22 attempts.

5. Rebels overcome adversity

The Melbourne Rebels have travelled more than 30,000km in the opening four rounds and overcome a horror run of injuries to record their best-ever Super Rugby start. Missing Nic Stirzaker, Mike Harris, Colby Fainga’a and Reece Hodge, the Rebels sit comfortably in second place in the Australian conference. They’ll face a tough task next weekend when they take on 2015 champions the Highlanders in Melbourne.

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