Wessels, Coleman find upside in defeat

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

A belting at the hands of the powerhouse Hurricanes has produced more positives than negatives, according to Rebels coach Dave Wessels.

Wessels is not one to find positives in every defeat but he was surprisingly optimistic after his side's 50-19 loss to the Manchester United of Super Rugby, as the Rebels coach put it.

Spurred on by a vocal 16,000 strong crowd at AAMI Park, Melbourne went toe-to-toe with the Hurricanes to open up a 19-8 lead with 30 minutes played.

But the 50 minutes that followed were a stark contrast, as the Canes ran in 42 unanswered points.

Wessels put that down to a few factors.

"There were a lot of unknowns going into this game for us," Wessels said.

"It was an opportunity to set a mark and (determine) what the things are that we need to improve and to be competitive at the top end.

"The Hurricanes are like the Man United of rugby and I thought in that first half we really played some good rugby.

"Losing Mafi at half time - who was having a great game - he was a pretty key part of our plan.

"That changed the momentum of the game but ultimately we lost the game because they controlled the field better.

"They strategically managed the field better and I thought a couple of times we gave them back-to-back penalties.

"Against a team like the Hurricanes you don't get away with that."Dave Wessels wasn't displeased by his side's performance. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Rebels looked a completely different outfit without the inspirational play of Mafi - who played himself to the point of exhaustion in an incredible first half.

A 25-0 second half followed and captain Adam Coleman said his side let their intensity fall off at the resumption of play.

"I was really proud of the boys and the way we started but we can't be a 40 minute team," Coleman said.

"In the second half I thought the intensity dropped off.

"We really want to let our performances do the talking and every time we leave the field we want to make sure our fans to be proud of us.

"It's not about the result - it's about our character and our heart and what we show on the field.

"We talk about love in the squad and it's a work rate thing - making sure we keep that intensity.The second half was a try scoring frenzy for Ngani Laumape and the Hurricanes. Photo: Getty Images"The first half - we were there - the second half, like I said before, they really capitalised on our ill-discipline."

Melbourne now have the bye before a three week stretch which will see them host the Jaguares prior to a South African tour.

In each of those matches, Wessels wants to see his side improve upon a performance which will have many scratching them as a genuine Super Rugby contender.

"Our restart didn't work exactly the way we had planned, they got a little bit of momentum off the back of that and then we go to set piece and they got momentum off the back of that," Wessels said.

"They started to build and put us on the back foot and it just snowballed in moments of the game.

"For us, in those moments, what do we do differently?

"Our ability to understand the moment to throw a loose pass versus the same moment at the different time in the game where you hold that ball.

"That's understanding the momentum of the game and where the game is at to try and control it.

"That's what they do very well and that's why they're the best team in the comp.

"We know now - we just have to do it more consistently for long periods of the game."