The Melbourne Rebels are having the best start to a season in their history but coach Tony McGahan isn’t getting carried away.
Melbourne clinched a historic first win in Sydney since their Super Rugby inception, and just their second over the Waratahs, holding out a late charge from the home side.
The victory was their third win away from home this season, after wins over the Force in Perth and the Sunwolves in Japan, and puts them on equal points with the conference-leading Brumbies.
Their epic road trip tally to start the year challenged the Rebels, but McGahan said they were pleased to come out the end of it with a 4-2 record and another franchise first.
“We don’t have a long history, like the Waratahs so for us to accumulate these wins and especially away from home, it’s really important and just shows you the spirit of the group and how hard they’re working and where they’re getting to,” he said.
“I think for us now (we need) to take a break and assess where we’re at.
“We’ll have a lot to take out of it but I think the group itself will have a lot more to learn and get better at because we have significant challenges.”
McGahan praised the spirit of his group, whose defence withstood an attacking barrage from the Waratahs as the second half ticked on.
“Our defence has been a strong point this season”
- Tony McGahan, Rebels Coach.
“I certainly think there’s some technical things there but I think like most good defences it’s built on a real mateship and a real spirit about what they do and real understanding and trust about where they’re going.
“That’s been a strong part of certainly our season so far and we need to continue and we need to continue to bring our attack up to that level as well.”
Captain Nic Stirzaker had another frustrating match, coming off before half-time after a head knock.
The 24-year-old led the Rebels out for the first time this season but his premature end added to an interrupted season.
With a week off before a clash with the Hurricanes in a fortnight. Stirzaker said the side would welcome a rest.
“For me personally and the team I think it’s come a great time for us,” he said.
“Having six weeks with a lot of travel and a lot of back-to-back games obviously it’s come at a good time for us to rest a few bodies that’ll be pretty sore from a bruising game today."