The Rebels have let another game slip away, going down to the Jaguares in Melbourne.
What are we talking about after that 25-22 thriller?
1. Coleman's confidence comes too late
Every captain has a moment where they have the option to go for the three or the five, and it reveals much of their approach to rugby. Rebels skipper Adam Coleman backed his team to score off the scrum in the 83rd minute in Melbourne. The Jaguares had other ideas and though Coleman’s choice would have been respected by many fans, it came too late. This was the third of their last four games where they have led or been close at half-time, only to end up on the wrong side of the scoreboard, largely by their own doing. It's officially a trend now, and a worrying one at that.
2. Genia loss a major blow
The Rebels have a stack of stars in their lineup in 2018, but it’s their halfback Will Genia that may be proving to be the most important. He orchestrated the Rebels’ opener against the run of play and was a critical link at set piece time. Genia’s greatest asset, though, is perhaps his ability to lift those around him - it’s no coincidence that Jack Debreczeni is enjoying one of his best seasons in recent memory on his outside. So, to see him replaced just 50 minutes in with a hamstring injury sent a scare through many spectators. It didn't help that Michael Ruru did not have his best game either, which compounded the pain, ultimately giving away the match-winning try. Without Genia, the Rebels look rudderless at times and that is the last thing they need as the conference hangs in the balance.
3. Penalty count rising too high
Though it was a try that clinched the win, the difference in the match in Melbourne was a Nicolas Sanchez penalty. The first of those came in the eighth minute after the Rebels conceded three penalties in seven minutes, with the second coming after half-time. It was Rebels’ poor disicpline that gave them opportunities late as well, something Melbourne needs to work on in the coming weeks.
4. Forward grit
The Rebels’ backline is flashy, but it was their forwards that bore the brunt of the work against the Jaguares. Hooker Anaru Rangi, who is currently keeping Wallabies rake Jordan Uelese on the Rebels bench, while flanker Richard Hardwick and no. 8 Amanaki Mafi were immense in defence. Hardwick’s day was ended early, but he was already setting the tone for the pack before his 41st minute exit.
5. Jaguares have spark
TheJaguares have spark and they showed it in spades as they ran out winners in Melbourne. Nicolas Sanchesz was steering his side well against immense pressure and when opportunities presented themselves late, they absolutely pounced. A win on the road will give them immense confidence and they’ll be hoping they can find more where that came from.