MELBOURNE - The Melbourne Rebels have finished their Super Rugby season on a disappointing note with a 40-7 loss to the Bulls in Pretoria.
The result consigned the Melbourne side to the competition's wooden spoon.
The Rebels were bidding for their first win abroad and were in the hunt at Loftus Versfeld at halftime as they trailed 12-7.
They looked the better of the teams but were unable to convert pressure into points with Jack Debreczeni missing three penalty goals.
Their new five-eighth, who replaced the injured Bryce Hegarty, had a mixed bag as he scored his first Super Rugby try in the opening stanza.
Their cause wasn't helped when skipper Scott Fuglistaller was given a yellow card after repeated team infringements at the breakdown.
Fuglistaller was making his first start as captain following Scott Higginbotham's suspension after his third yellow card of the season.
Melbourne's good defensive work in the first half fell away to allow Bulls lock Paul Willemse to cross in the opening minute of the second half after a break by fullback Jurgen Visser.
Willemse, who himself was yellow-carded in the first half for a tip tackle on Hugh Pyle, then added another try in the 51st minute after well-worked set play from the lineout.
The Bulls had all the momentum and made the Rebels' task insurmountable when Springboks winger Francois Hougaard showed some dazzling footwork to stand up fullback Telusa Veainu.
Five-eighth Handre Pollard finished with 18 points from four penalties and three conversions in a flawless night before he was replaced.
Melbourne still toiled hard but weren't helped by a mounting error toll and the Bulls put the nail in the coffin in the 77th minute when reserve prop Dean Greyling barrelled over to touch down.
The match was the last for Rebels lock Hugh Pyle and fullback Jason Woodward, who sat out with a back injury, with the pair heading to France and New Zealand respectively.