Melbourne have been left to rue another slow start in crashing to the table-topping Hurricanes, who piled on the points in their Super Rugby Pacific clash in Palmerston North.

The unbeaten Hurricanes made a staggering 14 personnel changes to their line-up heading into the match but didn't skip a beat as they notched their fifth win of the season with a 54-28 victory.

The Rebels had no answer in the first half to the Kiwi outfit, who led 33-7 at the break on the back of five tries and were ahead 33-0 after 34 minutes.

Winger Salesi Rayasi grabbed two tries while skipper Brad Shields, who last played for the Hurricanes in 2018 before a stint in Europe, also crossed in his first match of the season after recovering from a foot injury.

Rebels lock Angelo Smith scored in the 39th minute to ensure his side at least lodged some points in a humiliating first half which will do little to help their case for survival.

In financial dire straits, Melbourne are still waiting on a decision from Rugby Australia on their future in the competition.

Frustrated Rebels coach Kevin Foote said his team gave the ruthless home side too many opportunities, particularly in the first half.

"It's the way we've been playing. We're not starting very well and then we're showing a lot of character to come back," Foote told Stan Sport.

"It was 21-21 in the second half but it's the start of the game that we've got to get right.

"You can't start Super Rugby like that, especially in NZ, so we will keep looking."

The Rebels rallied to open the scoring in the second half through centre Lukas Ripley, and the team came together when youngster Mason Gordon crossed in his Super debut.

Replacing Andrew Kellaway at fullback, the 21-year-old ran onto a ball from his Wallabies playmaker brother Carter and made his way through some heavy traffic to make it 47-19.

While the battered Melbourne kept toiling away, the Hurricanes kept them at bay as they racked up a total of eight tries for the night.

Veteran halfback TJ Perenara was among the try-scorers while Jordie Barrett collected a five-pointer in each half in his return from a two-game suspension.

"Rebels are a great side, they play a lot of rugby and they've been going through a bit of adversity as a franchise and we knew they were going to keep turning up for each other," said All Blacks centre Barrett.

"We showed great control, particularly with a lot of rotation and changes ... it was important for us to start strong.

"We got a little bit loose in the end but we will take the win."

Hurricanes 54 (TRIES: Barrett 2, Rayasi 2, Shields, Perenara, Godfrey, Kirif; CONS: Morgan 7) 

def Melbourne Rebels 28 (TRIES: Ripley, Smith, M. Gordon, Uelese; CONS: C.Gordon 4)

HURRICANES (1-15): Pouri Rakete-Stones, James O'Reilly, Tyrel Lomax, Justin Sangster, Caleb Delany, Brad Shields (c), Du’Plessis Kirifi, Devan Flanders, TJ Perenara, Aidan Morgan, Salesi Rayasi, Jordie Barrett, Ngane Punivai, Daniel Sinkinson, Harry Godfrey

RESERVES: Asafo Aumua, Tevita Mafileo, Pasilio Tosi, James Tucker, Brayden Iose, Richard Judd, Riley Higgins, Josh Moorby

REBELS (1-15): Isaac Kailea, Jordan Uelese, Sam Talakai, Angelo Smith, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Tuaina Taii Tualima, Vaiolini Ekuasi, Rob Leota (c), Ryan Louwrens, Carter Gordon, Glen Vaihu, David Feliuai, Lukas Ripley, Lachie Anderson, Andrew Kellaway

RESERVES: Alex Mafi, Cabous Eloff, Taniela Tupou, Josh Canham, Daniel Maiava, Jack Maunder, Mason Gordon, Nick Jooste

Referee: Nic Berry

Assistant Referee: Angus Mabey, Marcus Playle