Super 15 - Cipriani's Rebels trounce Hurricanes
The Melbourne Rebels continue to prove they're the ultimate Super rugby enigma, coming from 17-0 down inside the first 20 minutes to beat the Wellington Hurricanes 42-25 in Melbourne.
The Rebels, who were thrashed 53-3 by the Queensland Reds in Brisbane last week, outscored the visiting Hurricanes 42-3 in 55 minutes through six tries and 12 points from the boot of flyhalf Danny Cipriani.
It was their second victory of the season, both have been achieved at home, and the embarrassing result for the All Blacks-laden Hurricanes could have been much worse had Cipriani not missed a further 12 points from shots at goal.
"It's amazing what a difference a week can make in footy... and unfortunately consistency is really stinging us at the moment," Rebels captain Stirling Mortlock said. "But we are really happy (with the win).
"I was really happy with the way we tuned things around. We were a little bit slow to start with but the boys got into the groove and it was a good performance."
The Hurricanes had looked to have the match sewn up in the first 20 minutes of the game romping out to a 17-0 lead courtesy of tries to scrumhalf Chris Eaton, rampaging number eight Victor Vito and flyhalf Daniel Kirkpatrick.
All three came courtesy of quick turnover ball and woeful defending by the Rebels, who missed 15 tackles in the first 20 minutes.
The Rebels, however, fuelled by a boisterous crowd at the newly constructed stadium in the inner city suburb of Richmond which fans have now nicknamed 'The Stockade', finally appeared to wake up.
The expansion team went to their strength, kicking the ball behind the Hurricanes, using crash runners cutting back close to the ruck that allowed their forwards to keep the ball in tight and rumble ahead.
Each of their three first half tries were to their pack, loosehead prop Rodney Blake, lock Alister Campbell and openside flanker Michael Lipman all scoring after a series of driving plays.
Cipriani, who had missed two successive kicks at goal following his conversion of Blake's try then slotted a long-range penalty to level the score at 20-20 at the break.
The Rebels continued their momentum when play resumed with Cipriani kicking an early penalty before Campbell scored his second try of the match, which was converted by the Englishman.
Winger Cooper Vuna and scrumhalf Nick Phipps also scored tries for the Rebels as they took advantage of woeful Hurricanes defending, while Cipriani added another conversion.
Hurricane's replacement hooker Dane Coles managed to cross for a bonus point try with less than three minutes remaining though the result was already a foregone conclusion.
"They kicked the ball into our half, fed off our mistakes and killed us in the end," Hurricanes captain Andrew Hore said.
"They played some great footy and... we were probably lucky to get one point out of that."