WELLINGTON –The Melbourne Rebels thrashed the Sunwolves 40-13 to move to within one point of the Waratahs in the Australian conference.
Wallabies winger Marika Koroibete grabbed a hat-trick and fellow winger Jack Maddocks scored twice as the Rebels ran in six tries to one against a depleted Japanese outfit.
The Sunwolves rested 14 players from the team that beat the Stormers in Hong Kong last week and their lack of cohesion showed as the Rebels ran away with the match in the second half.
The Sunwolves had started the better of the two and opened the scoring after just three minutes through a try to winger Lomano Lemeki.
But the Rebels were on level terms two minutes later as Koroibete capitalised on a break from centre Bill Meakes to score under the posts.
Two more tries, to Maddocks and number eight Amanaki Mafi, put the home side in command at 21-7.
Two Hayden Parker penalties saw the Sunwolves close to 21-13 at the break but that was as close as they were to get.
Maddocks crossed for his second eight minutes after the restart before two Koroibete tries in three minutes in the closing stages completed the rout.
Rebels captain Adam Coleman said the plan to get the ball to the wingers had worked perfectly.
"They're outstanding players and I think the key for us is to get them more ball and let them do their thing," he said.
The Rebels have now won two matches in a row to put pressure on the Waratahs, who play the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday.