Derby loss a 'wasted opportunity' for Rebels

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Friday night’s loss to the Waratahs was absolutely a ‘wasted opportunity’, Rebels coach Tony McGahan says.

McGahan was unequivocal, albeit pragmatic, when asked whether his team would live to rue the night they let a 19-point lead slip through their fingers.

“No doubt. (It was) a wasted opportunity,” he said.

“Someone had to leave here with not feeling good about themselves and it's going to be us going through that.”

“We'll dust ourselves off, get on the Highlanders next week and go from there.

“It’s not easy and it’s certainly not the end of the world but certainly makes it tougher.

“You've got to win your local derbies, you've got to win them at home.”

A scintillating first half gave the Rebels the biggest advantage they’ve ever had after 40 minutes, but it was all downhill from there.

Colby Faingaa was influential for the Rebels. Photo: Getty ImagesOn a painful night, there were still plenty of bright spots, the shiniest of all being the Rebels’ backrow of Jordy Reid, Colby Faingaa and Amanaki Mafi

“They worked themselves to a standstill,” McGahan said.

“They were at the forefront of everything, whether it was carry, retreat, breakdown, defence, the three of them just worked their socks off.”

Despite their breakdown threat, It was the set piece that fell apart in the second half.

Concussions to hooker James Hanson and second rowers Dominic Day and Culum Retallick hurt them in that area, with lineout steals sparking the Waratahs 26-point second half.

“You've just got to win it at set piece and then you just need to control it and get ourselves back in the game,” he said.

“I don't now how many times we turned it over there in the second half, we just needed to get our footprint in the game.

“We always come up with an answer but you can only keep asking so many times and we fell short there.”

On-field carnage could leave them depleted against the Highlanders next week, with locks Day, Retallick and Hanson, going through concussion protocols while utility back Tom English suffered a calf injury.

The potential loss of Sefa Naivalu looms as most ominous, though, with the flyer playing through a shoulder dislocation late in the game after a Faingaa yellow card left them a man down.

This was just Naivalu’s second game of the season after missing the opening two rounds with a leg infection.

McGahan expects Lopeti Timani to return for round six, after being a late withdrawal from the Waratahs match, while Sean McMahon is two weeks away from playing.