Rebels send SOS to Wallabies
The Melbourne Rebels are hoping the return of a trio of Wallabies squad members helps them climb off the canvas for a daunting trip to Wellington for the second round of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman.
The Rebels suffered a humiliating 50-3 loss to the Blues in Melbourne at the weekend, with players apologising post-game to new coach Kevin Foote for their performance in his debut match.
They next take on the Hurricanes, who put 64 points on the NSW Waratahs, and Foote warned more pain was ahead for the Rebels if they didn’t get their set piece right.
The Blues scrum towelled up the Rebels, while they lost five of their line-outs, putting massive pressure on the team.
A costly penalty count of 13, errors due to the Blues’ rushing defence, as well as 28 missed tackles capped an awful night for the hosts.
Foote described the set-piece failure as a “big problem”.
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“If your set piece doesn’t fire, it’s hard to fire a shot,” Foote said.
“We didn’t feel like we had the ball. Our exiting [from our half] wasn’t very good either so playing a lot rugby in our own half and not putting pressure on them added up and by the end of it our defence fell into a hole.”
Melbourne can at least look to welcome back a trio of forwards from suspension – with Test back row forward Isi Naisarani, as well as Wallabies squad members Pone Fa’amausili (prop) and Trevor Hosea, who was their starting lock all through Super Rugby AU, available for selection.
Skipper Matt Toomua said the team still had the belief they weren’t just making up the numbers in the six-week competition, with the top two teams squaring off the Final.
“We’re looking for improvement,” Toomua said.
“We have a lot of belief in this team and belief is a word that is easy to say when you’re winning.
“We’ve got a few guys back from suspension and injury so we’re not going over there to make up numbers, we’re going over to win so we will get back up again.”