Tokyo (AFP) - Melbourne Rebels thrashed the Sunwolves 35-9 on Saturday to pile on the misery for Japan's fledgling Super Rugby franchise.
The visiting Rebels ran in four tries in Tokyo in a dominant performance and prevented the Sunwolves from crossing the try line to earn a bonus point in game played on a heavy pitch after torrential overnight rain.
The Sunwolves, winless in three matches in their first season of Super Rugby, face the Bulls in Singapore next week as they look for that elusive maiden victory.
The Rebels, who improved to 3-1 after four rounds, stubbornly refused to buckle as the Sunwolves pushed for a try, even when lock Lopeti Timani was sent to the sin bin for a shoulder charge.
Far from being put out as they went a man down, the Rebels even extended their lead when captain Sean McMahon went over for his side's fourth try after 69 minutes.
Leading 11-6 at halftime, the Rebels demonstrated the gulf in the class with halfback Ben Meehan and winger Tom English also scoring tries to cap a period of sustained pressure.
"Our team showed a real growing maturity to withstand the Sunwolves attacks and play for the full 80 minutes," said Rebels coach Tony McGahan, whose players remained on the pitch well after the final whistle taking souvenir photos of their first visit to Tokyo.
The Sunwolves also stayed behind to sign autographs for fans, many of whom are still new to rugby -- so much so that penalty decisions are explained by the stadium announcer and flashed up on the giant screen.
"I feel very sorry for the fans," said wing Akihito Yamada. "It's important for us to continue to focus for the full 80 minutes. I hope we can give the fans a victory to celebrate soon."
Flyhalf Tusi Pisi's three successful penalties were scant consolation for the Sunwolves, whose fragile confidence will have been dented further after their most lopsided defeat to date.
"We go into every game as the underdog," Sunwolves head coach Mark Hammett told reporters. "If we lose we always stay positive. The only time I won't be positive is when we don't bring character and attitude."
While the Rebels have clocked up a staggering 30,000 kilometres in air miles during the first four round, it was the Sunwolves who were complaining of tiredness.
"When the fatigue got to us in the second half, we didn't communicate well," said captain Shota Horie. "You could see the gap in experience in Super Rugby."