A Will Genia hamstring injury has compounded the blow of a shock 25-22 Rebels' loss to the Jaguares on Saturday.
Genia was in stellar form in Melbourne, orchestrating the side’s opening try and playing a critical role in another on Saturday afternoon.
It was on the way to helping Dane Haylett-Petty to his 49th-minute try that the halfback appeared to hurt his hamstring, immediately coming off the ground.
Genia’s would be arguably the biggest loss the Rebels could suffer, especially on the eve of a make-or-break South Africa tour for the side.
It won't have helped that his replacement, Michael Ruru, was far from his best rugby on Saturday, with his kick charged down as the Jaguares snatched what was ultimately a match-winning score.
After leading 19-6 at the 50-minute mark, the Rebels conceded two tries to one in the next 25 minutes, conceding a yellow card along the way, trailing by three points.
Nearly three minutes after the 80-minute mark, Rebels captain Adam Coleman opted for a scrum off a penalty advantage to try and snatch the win, but a Jaguares pilfer ended their hopes.
Ill-discipline cost the Rebels early in the piece, with three penalties in seven minutes allowing Nicolas Sanchez to put the Jaguares on the board.
It was some Genia magic that created the first real chance for the Rebels, with the halfback throwing a clever dummy with Bill Meakes running a strong support line, to collect the final pass and score their opener.
The Rebels tried to engineer more scores out of advantage opportunities, with a cross-field kick missing its target and Marika Koroibete pushed into touch just short of the line.
Koroibete didn’t have any of that trouble, though, second time around, running in an easy try standing on his own on the right edge.
Sanchez had the chance to close the gap in the 44th minute, with his second of the day, as the Rebels’ penalty count grew.
Meakes and Genia combined in spectacular fashion just four minutes later, with a slick no-look Meakes pass landing in Genia’s hands, before the halfback popped a loopy inside ball into the hands of Dane Haylett-Petty, his final involvment of the match.
A yellow card for Tetera Faulkner put the Rebels on the back foot and the Jaguares made the most of it, through Sebastian Cancelliere, with the speedster slipping through a gap in the Rebels’ defence.
More ill-discipline from the Rebels gave the Jaguares chances in the final minutes and when the Jaguares charged down a Ruru box kick, replacement back Bautista Ezcurra gave the visitors the lead with six minutes to go.
Melbourne had the final say of the match, with a chance to draw the game off a penalty advantage, but Coleman opted for a scrum to go for the win.
Ruru looked lost at the ensuing set piece and the Jaguares held out the Rebels, for the second year in a row.
The Rebels now face a make-or-break tour of South Africa and the Waratahs could clinch the conference lead with a win over the Reds.
Tries: Meakes, Koroibete, D Haylett-Petty
Cons: Debreczeni 2
Yellow Card: Faulkner
Tries: Cancelliere, Moyano, Ezcurra
Cons: Sanchez 2
Pens: Sanchez 2