Super Rugby
Rebels come up short against Crusaders
ESPNscrum Staff
February 5, 2011

Melbourne Rebels enjoyed a productive first game at AAMI Park on Saturday, where they were edged out 19-14 by the Crusaders in their final hit out before the Super Rugby season gets underway.

Over 13,000 fans turned out to see the tournament's newest franchise come up just short against one of the powerhouses of southern hemisphere rugby, who themselves suffered an injury blow with All Black Israel Dagg limping off early.

Cooper Vuna and fly-half James Hilgendorf crossed for tries for the Rebels but were upstaged by efforts from visiting flanker Matt Todd and centre Adam Whitelock.

Meanwhile, the NSW Waratahs showcased their attacking threat with an eye-catchinng 41-13 thrashing of an under-strength and over-powered Fiji in Sydney in Friday night's trial match.

With Wallabies weapons littered throughout their backline, the Waratahs used the ball at every opportunity and crossed for seven tries in an ominous display of positive rugby.

Wingers Afa Pakalani and Lachie Turner each picked up two tries while Kurtley Beale, Drew Mitchell and Ryan Cross also scored as Berrick Barnes let down his good performance in the No.10 jersey with some average goal-kicking.

The Queensland Reds also recorded a big win over fellow Australian Super Rugby contenders ACT Brumbies in neutral Darwin.

Digby Ioane starred alongside Reds lynchpins Quade Cooper and Will Genia as they dismantled the Brumbies 38-5 with tries to man of the match James Horwill, Ed Quirk, Rod Davies, Rob Simmons, Mike Harris and Dom Shipperly. Anthony Smith responded for the wasteful Brumbies.

In New Zealand, the Blues beat the Hurricanes 33-32 in a thrilling trial which was notable for the trouble-free return of former All Blacks lock Ali Williams for the victors.

Chris Lowrey, Benson Stanley and Jared Payne scored early for the Blues as they raced out to a 24-0 lead but the Canes, who had some of their bigger name players waiting on the bench, launched a comeback that ultimately fell a point short.

Jeremy Thrush scored two tries to get the comeback underway and they scored twice more in the second half but Stephen Brett's expertise from the kicking tee ensured the Blues held on.

The Western Force were also in action, beating an Australian Barbarians selection 40-24 at TG Millner Field in Sydney.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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