The Melbourne Rebels dropped to their 2nd successive loss as the Crusaders flexed their Super Rugby muscle with a 25-19 win at AAMI Park on Friday night.
The Rebels were optimistic of rebounding from a big loss to the Western Force and while they provided a much-improved performance, could not receive the much better of the Crusaders.
Centre Tom Taylor has shown his value with the boot, slotting a faultless 6 fine and one conversion to give the Crusaders 2 wins from 4 games probably into the bye.
In an arm wrestle of a 1st half, none of the side was able to cross the try line, with Taylor pushing his team to a 12-9 lead, while fullback Jason Woodward gathered the Rebels’ points.
They had lots of ownership, but too often the Rebels revealed the pressure valve on the Crusaders with a mistake or even bad kick while a rocketing penalty count did them no favors.
The visitors’ defense was also rock solid, along with prop Laurie Weeks arriving off 2nd best as he pulled himself out there taking the ball up late in the 1st half as well as did not return.
The first attempt of the match arrived the 56th minute with the Rebels attempting seriously to hold out the waves of attack just before they were caught short, Crusaders hooker Ben Funnell going over out wide.
The actual conversion and after that another fine from Taylor moved the lead out to 13 points and while clearly there was still time to build amends, Melbourne never truly seemed comfortable.
They managed to get throughout the line with 2 mins remaining with hard-working flanker Scott Fuglistaller to come up with the points after the forwards mauled the ball.
Bryce Hegarty added the extras to make sure an essential reward point for completing within just 7 points.
Increasing the dissatisfaction, the Rebels lost exciting fullback Woodward 8 mins into the 2nd half when he limped off with a leg injury.