Rebels pair push their Wallabies cases in big win

Marika Koroibete surges forward for the Rebels.

“Mad Dog” Jack Maddocks and fellow winger Marika Koroibete put their cases forward for Wallabies selection with a match-winning performances for Melbourne Rebels on Friday night.

The Rebels beat a plucky but understrength Tokyo Sunwolves 40-13 at AAMI Park, claiming a bonus point to remain just one behind Australian conference leader New South Wales Waratahs.

Earlier in the week the Rebels re-signed Maddocks until the end of 2020 after he has starred on both the wing and at fullback this season.

His two-try performance against the Sunwolves will see him move back into the top-10 try scorers in Super Rugby while on a night when the Rebels were loose with their passing, Maddocks ran straight lines and made a try-saving tackle early in the second half.

Former NRL star Koroibete scored a hat-trick and finished with aplomb but his struggles defensively will also be noted by Michael Cheika and his Wallabies selectors.

The Sunwolves made 14 changes to the starting side who won the past two games as they rested their Japanese test stars so they were far weaker than the Ireland side who will face the Wallabies June.

But the game was chaotic and played at high tempo yet Maddocks, Reece Hodge and fullback Dane Haylett-Petty kept the Rebels on the front foot while Koroibete was dangerous when brought into the game by his backline.

Maddocks may be just 21 but his form shows Maddocks is well inside Australia’s best 23 players, in fact he may well be in the best 15.

Jack Maddocks continued his superb form.

Hodge played his first full game at five-eighth this season and did well in 74 minutes on the field kicking accurately and running hard but he will face a sterner test should coach Dave Wessels retain him in the role against Auckland Blues next Saturday.

The Rebels paid dearly for a lacklustre start as the Sunwolves burned them down the right wing to score just minutes into the game with Koroibete caught out of position as five-eighth Hayden Parker found winger Lomano Lemeki for the try and a 7-0 lead.

But the Sunwolves couldn’t keep pace defensively and were soon in trouble as the Rebels broke the line at midfield and ended with Billy Meakes finding Koroibete who sprinted under the posts to tie the game.

Just minutes later Rebels halfback Michael Ruru took a quick tap and after failing to milk a penalty made a brilliant short pass to Maddocks who bolted over to make a 14-7 lead.

On 22 minutes Rebels No.8 Amanaki Mafi used the cover of his mauling teammates to roll over the line and score their third try to lead 21-7.

The Sunwolves were lacking defensively but not in heart or attacking drive and they managed to earn two penalties in the lead up to half-time as the home side led 21-13 at the break.

Maddocks had a second try on 48 minutes after Haylett-Petty found him on the right wing with room to sprint into the line as Hodge’s conversion made it 28-13.

Maddocks was doing it defensively minutes later chasing the speedy Hosea Saumaki and ankle-tapping the winger forcing him out of bounds.

The Sunwolves were down to 14 men just after the hour after a scrambling Saumaki was harshly but fairly shown a yellow card for a professional foul after Rebels flanker Angus Cottrell tried to throw the ball to a teammate just metres from the line and the out of position winger knocked it away.

Koroibete scored his brace with a diving effort on 68 minutes while 21 year old forward Pone Faamausili made his Rebels debut off the bench.

Koroibete added his third with 10 minutes to play, the Rebels and the Wallabies will hope he will take the confidence from this night into the pivotal next month.

The Rebels face the Auckland Blues in Auckland next Saturday at 3.15pm AEST.

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