Hurricanes 66 Rebels 24
Out of reach ... Julian Savea of the Hurricanes escapes the desperate tackle of Nick Phipps to score one of three tries for the match. Photo: Getty Images
The Melbourne Rebels crashed back to earth with a 66-24 thrashing at the hands of the rampant Hurricanes in their Super Rugby clash in Wellington.
After winning their last two matches the Rebels had no answer to the Hurricanes, who ran in nine tries with Julian Savea scoring a hat-trick and fellow winger Alapati Leiua and fullback Andre Taylor doubles.
Injured ... Kurtley Beale of the Rebels. Photo: Getty Images
To cap the misery for Melbourne, their star five-eighth Kurtley Beale left the field early in the second half with what appeared to be a shoulder injury.
Key backs Mark Gerrard and Lachlan Mitchell were also injured in ferocious tackles by reserve Hurricanes hooker Motu Matu'u.
Gerrard appeared to suffer a sternum injury in the 64th minute while Mitchell was knocked out in a tackle just a few minutes later and stretchered from the ground.
Despite the injury Gerrard was forced to remain on the field because the Rebels had run out of reserves.
Melbourne's defence, which was key to their victories over the Crusaders and Western Force, was woeful, missing 19 tackles in the first half alone.
Their kicking game was poor, giving the Hurricanes the broken play opportunities they relish and they didn't control enough possession to pressure the home side.
Melbourne started well enough, with winger Cooper Vuna running on to a Beale pass and then beating eight Hurricanes players before stretching out to plant the ball over the tryline.
After exchanging penalties the Hurricanes levelled at 10-10 with a try in the 20th minute that's sure to make the highlights reel.
Young halfback TJ Perenara flicked a backhand pass to centre Tim Bateman, who as he was being tackled over the sideline got a ball away to fullback Taylor who dived across the line.
From that point it was all downhill for the Rebels.
The enterprising Vuna did get a second try in the first half when he intercepted a long Bateman pass and charged to the line but there little else to celebrate as they trailed 38-17 at the break.
Savea's third try in the 53rd minute, converted by Beauden Barrett, brought their side past the half-century mark, 52-17.
The Rebels then allowed another two tries before Melbourne's reserve hooker Adam Freier scored after fulltime to cap a forgettable match.
HURRICANES 66 (Julian Savea 3, Alapati Leiua 2, Andre Taylor 2, Chris Eaton, Jack Lam tries Beauden Barrett 9 cons pen) bt MELBOURNE REBELS 24 (Cooper Vuna 2, Adam Freier tries Kurtley Beale 2, Richard Kingi cons Beale pen) at Westpac Stadium. Referee: Jonathan White.