Justin Chadwick
March 9, 2014, 1:09 pm

It was a rosy weekend for Australian rugby - unless you're a Melbourne Rebels fan.

The Brumbies notched their second straight win with a 29-21 victory over the Hurricanes in Wellington on Friday, while the Reds (2-1) got their finals bid back on track with a 43-33 bonus-point win over the Cheetahs.

The Waratahs enjoyed the bye and are sitting pretty on top of the Australian conference after securing bonus-point wins in their opening two games.

They'll face their sternest test to date when they travel to Canberra for a clash with the Brumbies on Saturday.

But the Rebels were left licking their wounds after being embarrassed by the lowly Western Force in Perth.

Melbourne opened their season with an impressive 35-14 win over the Cheetahs, but they looked second rate in a 32-7 defeat to the Force.

The Perth-based franchise ran in four tries inside the opening 27 minutes, with the bonus-point win a fitting celebration of skipper Matt Hodgson's 100-game milestone.

The Rebels' sole try came after the final siren, and they face a week of soul searching ahead of Friday night's match-up with the Crusaders in Melbourne.

Rebels coach Tony McGahan made six alterations to his starting line-up heading into the Force clash, but he denied the overhaul had upset the team's momentum.

Another week of mass personnel changes could be in the pipeline following the lacklustre display.

"To be honest, I don't know if there was anyone out there who could walk away with any shred of confidence," McGahan said.

"It's a big learning curve for all of us. We're all responsible for the result.

"We let down the club."

Rebels skipper Scott Higginbotham said his team could expect a "kick up the ass" this week.

The Force looked vulnerable in their losses to NSW and the Brumbies.

But predictions of a wooden spoon campaign appear off the mark if their first-half performance against the Rebels is anything to go by.

"I think that's the best 30 minutes we've played at the club in its entirety," Hodgson said.

"There's a big light at the end of the tunnel."

The Crusaders notched their first win of the season after a late penalty handed them a 14-13 win over the Stormers.

The Bulls ran in four tries in their 38-22 victory over the Blues, while the Sharks also secured a four-try bonus point in their 37-23 win over the Lions.

Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett is already under the pump after his team coughed up a 10-point lead against the Brumbies on the way to their third straight loss of the season.

Calls are growing for former All Black Tana Umaga to take over from Hammett, who has led the Hurricanes to ninth, eighth and 11th-placed finishes over the past three years.