The Roar
The Roar


Hurricanes put half-century on Rebels in ugly scoreline for embattled Super Rugby franchise as injuries add up

Autoplay in... 6 (Cancel)
Up Next No more videos! Playlist is empty -
22nd March, 2024
2726 Reads

The exasperated faces inside the Melbourne Rebels’ coach’s box said it all, as their hopes of coming away from New Zealand with a precious win over the Hurricanes blew up inside 40 minutes.

Four tries during a 10-minute passage and five in total after the opening 32 minutes meant there was only ever going to be one result at Palmerston North as the home side raced out to a 33-0 lead.

The Rebels scored four tries themselves, but the Hurricanes scored double that number to post a dominant 54-28 victory.

While the Rebels’ set-piece functioned and the two sides had a similar tackle percentage, where the home side smashed the visitors was in the loose with the Hurricanes making 16 clean breaks to four.

In a double whammy, the Rebels resembled the walking wounded at the end of the match with Wallabies star Andrew Kellaway departing after 41 minutes and replacement hooker Alex Mafi later in the match.

Mega signing Taniela Tupou also received attention twice in the second half, as he seemingly copped a bang to the leg and later to his hand.


Rebels players look dejected during their heavy round five Super Rugby Pacific defeat to the Hurricanes at Central Energy Trust Arena on March 22, 2024, in Palmerston North. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Rebels skipper Rob Leota lamented his side’s inability to stay in the fight.

“We knew it was going to be tough coming over here,” he said.

“We had a real focus on ourselves to build on last week’s performance. Just the big moments, we’ve got to stay in it.

“We know we’ve got a lot of strengths, especially in our forward pack and our backs, we’ve just got to stay in those fatigue moments.”

The 26-point win was the perfect homecoming for Brad Shields, who finally made his return after an injury-disrupted start to the season which came after several years in England.

“It’s pretty special,” Shields said. “I wasn’t ever sure if I was ever going to make it back to the Hurricanes. I’m extremely proud to put the Hurricanes jersey on again.”


The Hurricanes made a dozen changes for the match.

It led to former All Blacks skipper Justin Marshall thinking the Rebels would want to make a statement after a sign of “disrespect”.

But the Hurricanes’ dominant first half said otherwise, as the home side managed to string multiple phases together and TJ Perenara settled back into the No.9 jersey with complete control after replacing Cam Roigard.

“We’ve got a big standard in the way we want to prepare and the way we want to execute and perform,” Shields said.

“No matter how many changes, we want to adhere to the best standards possible. We’ve got an expectation and I’m glad it came together.

“There’s a little bit of disappointment in a couple of areas, in our defence and 22.”


Early on there were signs the Rebels had turned up to play as they managed to get deep inside the Hurricanes’ half.

But the early ascendency didn’t last long, as the Hurricanes returned fire with fire.

Eventually, the pressure told as Salesi Rayasi scored in the 13th minute to break open the dam walls.

Some clever work from Perenara soon after put the Hurricanes back on the attack and Jordie Barrett scored four minutes later.

Then calamity struck, as Harry Godfrey steamed over the top of Ryan Louwrens from a box kick and then Rayasi was in for his second.

The Hurricanes were licking their fingers when Shiels scored soon after to open up a 26-0 lead after 25 minutes.


The Rebels’ coach’s box couldn’t believe what they were seeing, including a forward pass on halfway, which allowed the Hurricanes more ball and Godfrey scored after 32 minutes.

The visitors finally got on the scoreboard in the 38th minute when Angelo Smith crashed over out wide.

Just like during their heavy loss to the Reds a week earlier, the Rebels started the second half full of running and Lukas Ripley’s try in the 45th minute put some respectability on the scoreboard.

But another two tries in six minutes, including to quality openside flanker Du’Plessis Kirifi and Perenara, allowed the Hurricanes to once again break free.

Mason Gordon, the younger brother of Carter, scored on debut out wide as he found some space and carried over two defenders over to score.

But Barrett’s second saw the Hurricanes crack the half-century, before Jordan Uelese got on the scoreboard late.