Defence to be the difference for Rebels

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

The Rebels have shown they can pile on points in 2018, but it will be their ability to stop them that will be crucial against the Jaguares, fullback Dane Haylet-Petty says.

Melbourne has conceded 50 points in two of its past three games, against the Waratahs and Hurricanes, fading badly in both those games.

While the Jaguares have developed a reputation as an abrasive, physical side, they have a lineup of flashy backs, going from Test duo Martin Landajo and Nicolas Sanchez, to Joaquin Tuculet and Emiliano Boffelli in their back three.

Haylett-Petty said he was confident in the Rebels’ attacking prowess, but defence would be a major focus.

Dane Haylett-Petty returns to face the Jaguares. Photo: Getty Images“I think, like most games, the defence - it's not necessarily the flashy stuff that'll probably win you the game,” he said.

“I think the weather will play a factor, if it is expected to rain so we'll have to see what happens and whoever's able to adapt will probably win.

“I think they're one of the best attacking teams in the competition.

“Obviously, that's a huge threat for us.

“So, obviously trying to put them under pressure as much as possible when they have the ball and like I said, we're a team that can score points so hopefully we get a lot of ball and can play.

“We just have to see what the conditions are like tomorrow.”

Haylett-Petty is returning to the lineup for the first time since a head knock against the Waratahs in Sydney, and said he was looking forward to being a part of it.

“It's always tough watching from the sidelines, it was a little frustrating that I couldn't play the last two games but it worked out well,” he said.

“Obviously you don't want to mess around with your head, and then luckily we had a bye in the middle there too.”

Reece Hodge will miss this weekend's match. Photo: Getty ImagesThey will be without Reece Hodge, but Haylett-Petty said there would be no issue with the side gelling, with Tom English slotting straight into the centres.

“I think that's one of the luxuries that Dave (Wessels) has this season, is we've got a lot of depth,” he said.

“He's actually been able to rotate players and when there's an injury he doesn't have to risk anyone.

“I think Reece was touch and go for this week.

“In past years, coaches might have played him but we don't necessarily have to do that anymore.

“Everyone's playing well at the moment, everyone's fighting for positions, a lot of competition, which is really good for the squad.”

The Rebels take on the Jaguares at AAMI Park on Saturday afternoon, kicking off at 3:15pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.