Super Rugby
Rebels extend winning run
ESPNscrum Staff
January 29, 2011
Melbourne Rebels centre Stirling Mortlock makes his return to action, Melbourne Rebels v Fiji Warriors, Super rugby warm-up match, St Patrick's College, Ballarat, Australia, January 29, 2011
Veteran Stirling Mortlock made a successful return from injury in the Melbourne Rebels' victory over the Fiji Warriors © Getty Images
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Melbourne Rebels made it three wins from three games with a 42-27 victory over the Fiji Warriors in their latest Super Rugby warm-up clash.

Tries from debutant Stirling Mortlock, Lachie Mitchell, James Hilgendorf, Danny Cipriani, Cooper Vuna and Heath Tessman helped propel the Rebels to their latest success in Ballarat following back-to-back victories over Tonga in recent weeks. Cipriani, who started at fullback, also booted five conversions and Hilgendorf one in front of 3,445 fans at St Patrick's College.

"I was considerably more nervous than what I would have been for a normal trial, but it was good nervous," the 33-year-old Mortlock told AAP following his first outing since back surgery. "It was nice to get back on the horse."

The Rebels complete their pre-season campaign against the Crusaders next week. The seven-time Super Rugby winning Crusaders kicked off their preparations for the new season with a 42-15 defeat to the Reds in Cairns. Captain James Horwill returned from a long term injury lay-off to lead the hosts to victory with Radike Samo, Will Chambers, Saia Faingaa, Beau Robinson, Digby Ioane and Mike Harris all notching tries. Flanker George Whitelock and centre Robbie Fruean also crossed for the Kiwis.

Elsewhere, the Hurricanes beat the Chiefs 35-31 in Mangatainoka with James Broadhurst grabbing a brace of tries and Andre Taylor, Jayden Hayward and Alapati Leiua also crossing for scores. The Chiefs had led 17-14 at half-time before the Hurricanes took the lead 28-17 after the third quarter.

And the Blues edged out the Highlanders 31-29 in Balclutha. Nafi Tuitavake grabbed the winning converted try and his second of the game as the Blues came from behind in the third quarter to pip the Highlanders who led 15-10 at half-time.

Highlanders first five Colin Slade took a blow to the cheek during the game and was taken to hospital for x-rays, but Wellington youngster Lima Sopoaga proved an able replacement, kicking two conversions.

The Bulls were shocked by the Southern Kings as last season's Super 14 winners lost 23-7 at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium. The Kings dominated the match and the Bulls could only manage a late converted try through Courtnall Skosan.

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