Chiefs beat Rebels, stay perfect in Super Rugby Pacific
A significant finger injury to Wallabies back Reece Hodge has added to the Melbourne Rebels' woes, as they lost 44-25 to unbeaten Super Rugby Pacific leaders the Chiefs in Hamilton.
The Chiefs scored six tries to four as they picked up a fourth-straight bonus-points win, while the Rebels dropped to 1-3.
Melbourne scored the first eight points of the contest, but conceded the next 27.
They scored the last try of the first half to get back to 27-15 by the break, but the home side crossed twice in the first five minutes after the restart to pull away again.
Melbourne lost centre Hodge after just 22 minutes.
"He's got quite a significant injury, there's tendons and the bone came out of the skin," Rebels coach Kevin Foote said.
"We'll see if we can get him operated on as soon as possible."
The Chiefs, who were without some of their resting All Blacks, rallied after a slow start and profited from good kicks in behind the Rebels defence which set up two of their four tries in a decisive 11-minute burst either side of halftime.
"We came out and played some good footy. Even at the end we were still playing some good footy," Foote said.
"But there were phases in the middle where we were battling to exit and with those bouncing balls, we weren't diving on them.
"We are scoring tries, it's just those loose moments that we are letting teams in there we've got to stop."
Hodge notched the first points of the game with a penalty and his run off a pass from impressive five-eighth Carter Gordon helped set up a try for hooker Alex Mafi.
The Chiefs got on the board through a penalty to five-eighth Bryn Gatland as their attack clicked into gear.
A great run down the right from Emoni Narawa set up inside centre Rameka Poihipi, who returned the favour with a good chip which the winger gathered for another five-pointer.
The rampaging Chiefs added another try when Stevenson raced onto a kick, toed the ball through and won the chase.
Melbourne got a much-needed score before the break when centre Stacey Ili crossed after good work from Gordon and winger Lachie Anderson.
Any hopes of a full-scale Rebels revival were dashed when prop Tyrone Thompson burrowed over less than two minutes into the second half, and Stevenson pounced on a loose ball to score his second three minutes later.
Melbourne continued to compete and fullback Nick Jooste scored their third try, with Gordon again involved in the buildup.
The Chiefs responded through winger Etene Nanai-Seturo, crossing after the ball was quickly transferred from one side to the other following a turnover in Rebels territory.
Melbourne missed some good scoring opportunities before replacement David Feliuai barged over for their fourth try.