Rebels want fast start against Hurricanes

Melissa Woods, NZ Newswire Updated May 24, 2012, 4:14 pm

Melbourne know they need another fast start to take the wind out of the dangerous Hurricanes as they bid to win three successive Super Rugby matches for the first time.

After claiming the scalps of the Crusaders and the Force, the Rebels can break new ground in Wellington on Saturday.

As well as three straight, they've never won a match overseas.

After failing to score a point in the first 20 minutes of any game last season, starting well has been a priority and set them up for their recent run of success.

Coach Damien Hill says his side needs to get on the front foot against the Hurricanes, who will be desperate to claim five points to keep their finals hopes alive.

"It's been a really big focus for us," Hill said.

"Statistically they're leading the competition in terms of points scored in the first half so they start the game very well.

"If you aren't accurate with your kicking, if you're loose around the breakdown, they have the talent across the field to turn opportunities into points."

Both teams are front-runners to claim the competition's "most improved" award, with the Rebels currently third in the Australian conference and the Hurricanes fourth in New Zealand.

On the overall ladder the Wellington side are one place above Melbourne, who are 10th overall.

In their only other meeting, the Rebels upset the Hurricanes 42-25 at AAMI Park last season.

Hill has made a few personnel changes after the short turnaround and extra travel from Perth where they played the Force.

Jono Owen will make his run-on debut at tighthead prop, with Rodney Blake coming off the bench.

Luke Jones is back at blindside flanker after his two match suspension, with Tim Davidson at openside, replacing Michael Lipman who is being rested.

Tom Chamberlain will start on the bench after overcoming concussion issues.

Rebels: Julian Huxley, Mark Gerrard, Mitch Inman, Lachlan Mitchell, Cooper Vuna, Kurtley Beale, Nick Phipps, Gareth Delve (c), Tim Davidson, Luke Jones, Hugh Pyle, Cadeyrn Neville, Jono Owen, Ged Robinson, Nic Henderson. Res: Adam Freier, Rodney Blake, Al Campbell, Tom Chamberlain, Richard Kingi, James Hilgendorf, Stirling Mortlock.

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