Rebels top of Super Rugby after bonus point win
IF the measure of a side is how they respond when under adversity, the Rebels passed with flying colours on Friday night as they put fatigue aside to smash the Sharks 46-14 in Melbourne.
It was only five days ago that the Rebels wilted under near 40 degree temperatures in Sydney, as they let slip a 20-3 to lose 51-27 against the Waratahs.
But there was no second half fade out this time, as the Rebels ran riot to record their greatest ever winning margin in their eight year history and collect their fourth bonus point win of the season.
Not only did the 32-point win see the Rebels extend their lead over their Australian conference rivals, it also saw the Melbourne side go ahead of the Lions on top of the Super Rugby standings.
After an energy sapping week, the Rebels now have a week to prepare for their blockbuster clash against the Hurricanes.
The Friday night clash will be the first time an Australian side has come up against a New Zealand Super Rugby in 2018.
"I think in some ways a short turnaround can be good for you," Rebels captain Adam Coleman said.
"You don't over think it and you really get on with the job, and you start focusing on the next game.
"I'm really proud of the boys, they stuck together today and really proud of our bench and how they came on to finish the game."
It was only on Wednesday that Rebels coach Dave Wessels had taken the blame for his side's shock loss to the Waratahs last weekend, believing that his "grump" mood had rubbed off on his side.
But the highly rated young coach would have been pleased with his side's intensity, as they raced out of the blocks against the Sharks.
The Rebels almost scored from the kick-off as they made a break down the right-hand edge, but Reece Hodge's boot meant they didn't come away empty-handed.
It didn't take long before the Rebels had their desired five-pointer though, as Anaru Rangi scored his maiden Super Rugby try off the back of a rolling maul.
Things went from bad to worse shortly after for the Sharks, as they lost fullback Curwin Bosch to a yellow card for a deliberate knock-down.
But it was almost as if the Rebels thought that the tries would flow now that the Sharks were reduced to 14 men and that's all the South African opposition needed to get back into the match.
Lwazi Mvovo finished off an excellent try to cut the margin to 10-7 in the 28th minute.
The Rebels though went back to their rolling maul and found success immediately, as Amanaki Mafi scored to give the home side the momentum at half time.
And when Will Genia spotted a hole close to the line and ran himself to score the Rebels grew in confidence.
The floodgates opened soon after as Billy Meakes and Ross Haylett-Petty crossed in quick succession.
Mvovo was controversially denied a second late in the match for an earlier knock on at the base of the ruck, but it didn't matter as his teammate Marius Louw scored.
But intent on finishing the match on a high, Fereti Sa'aga scored on the stroke of full time to hand the Rebels their biggest ever victory.