Rebels fighting a wave of momentum

Super Rugby
Matt Lewis Profile
by Matt Lewis

The Rebels will be fighting a wave of momentum when they face the Cheetahs on Friday night.

Their South African visitors will arrive in Melbourne off the back of the second-highest score in Super Rugby history, after beating the Sunwolves 92-17 last weekend.

Rebels centre Tamati Ellison said the emphatic victory could be a double-edged sword for the Cheetahs.

“I’ve never won by that much,”  he joked.

“If you do have a big win there’s two ways it can go. It’s probably harder when it’s your first big win like that.”

On the other hand, the Rebels are coming off a disappointing loss the Hurricanes, their second straight defeat at home.

The Rebels aren’t the only Australian side to struggle against Kiwi teams with  just the Reds and Brumbies claiming a win over a New Zealand team this season.

The perception that New Zealand teams would be weakened after a generation of stars retired or moved overseas, Ellison said that was clearly not the case, seeing the Kiwi teams play with the attacking freedom they show.

“It looks like they’re playing really free rugby.” Ellison said.

“The Chiefs are moving the ball, avoiding contact and making sure they get the ball to space.

“The first and second year guys are playing with a lot of confidence so the older guys might have to start making some moves,” he said.

The Rebels will have to draw on their own depth, after winger Dom Shipperley was ruled out of the rest of the season with a ruptured ACL.

Dom Shipperley has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with an ACL injury. Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley.

Melbourne’s sides have been littered with late changes this year and they’ll be hoping Ellison is not another this Friday night, with his fourth child due any day.

“Last week was super stressful; I normally handle things pretty well,” he said.

“There’s an 80-minute window there where I hope she holds off.”