Rebels can't argue with coach's "stinging" criticism

Super Rugby
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by Beth Newman

Rebels captain Nic Stirzaker says Tony McGahan’s scathing assessment of the side's physicality was fair in their loss to the Chiefs.

McGahan described their first half effort in contact as “embarrassing”, as they let in four first-half tries, and Stirzaker said it was hard to disagree with that verdict.

“It does (sting) but you can’t argue with it,” he said.

“The speed of ball they were getting showed us we weren’t physical enough at the contest and in the tackle and stuff in the first half.

“They were just getting really quick ball and running over the top of us.

“So, obviously it really stings.

“There’s nothing we can do about it now except front up and  bounce back for next week.”

Nic Stirzaker 'can't argue' with his coach's criticisms. Photo: Getty ImagesWhile they will rue another inconsistent effort, Stirzaker said they simply had to search for the silver linings in the result.

“The more experience you get against them the better you'll be for it,” he said.

“Just knowing to front up in the first 15-20 minutes especially when you’re away from home (because) a side’s always going to come out hard at you and you've got to really just absorb that.

“Games will ebb and flow and when it’s not going your way you’ve just got to minimise the damage and we didn’t really minimise the damage.

“If we had, we showed in the second half that we could've made it competitive in the back end but I guess it’s just being really on at the start particularly in those away games.”

Stirzaker said it only took minor tweaks for momentum to shift, though his side was never able to make those happen against the Chiefs.

“It just takes one defensive set, one good first phase hit behind the gainline and then you might get a pilfer at the ruck.

“It just takes one defensive set to steal the momentum back and we just couldn’t do that.”

Melbourne hosts the Force this Sunday, without captain and key breakdown weapon Matt Hodgson and Stirzaker said that area would prove the key to the match.

“They play a really tight game, we've had really close games against them in the past but we’ve performed quite well.  

“We’ll just want to front up physically and make sure we’re in the breakdown contest and we reckon we’ll have enough out wide to get the result.”

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