The Rebels fell just short of the Hurricanes in Wellington.
What are we talking about after that 29-19 defeat?
1.Two halves don't make a whole
The Rebels have become the masters of 40-minute rugby matches. In the past two years, often they have faded out in the second half but on Saturday they
In a 26-0 hole at half-time, they did well to work their way back to just a seven-point lead by adjusting their attack and putting pressure on the Hurricanes scrum but it ultimately came to nothing.
They were within striking distance of a losing bonus point as well but a Quade Cooper shank left them a score short of that at full-time.
The next step for Melbourne is to ensure they don’t let teams jump away from them at the start, or indeed the end, of matches and leave themselves from which to dig out.
2. Conference stays congested
That missed bonus point could come back to bite the Rebels, who now sit just two points clear of the Reds at the top of the Australian conference.
Just a month ago, the Rebels were seven points clear of their closest rivals but their inconsistency has cost them that advantage as the weeks have ticked on.
Losses to the Stormers, Waratahs and now the Hurricanes could all prove incredibly costly as the finals equation becomes clearer.
Both the Brumbies and the Waratahs have a chance to draw level with the Rebels on competition points if they can beat the Blues or the Bulls, respectively, later on Saturday.
Every point could prove the difference between finals and a near-miss and the Rebels need to ensure they don’t cough up what once seemed an almost unassailable advantage.
3. Meakes finishes in style
Billy Meakes was pushed to the bench with the return of Rebels skipper Dane Haylett-Petty in Wellington but he didn’t let it get him down.
The centre made an immediate impact when he was injected into the game and helped turn the Rebels’ territory dominance into much-needed points.
Meakes finished with 34 run metres and a try in just 20 minutes on the field and lifted the team’s energy with his involvements.
His performance will certainly leave coach Dave Wessels with some selection dilemmas as they prepare for a clash against the Reds and in-form no. 12 Samu Kerevi next weekend.
4. Rebels on the right side of the penalty count
The Rebels found themselves on the wrong end of a bizarre penalty count when they were in Africa but on Saturday night, they were surprisingly on the favourable side of a 12-3 tally.
The Hurricanes racked up the penalties, particularly at scrum time, something that allowed the Rebels to stay in the game and whittle away the margin in the second half.
It’s rare that the Rebels find themselves on that side of the count and it’s something that was pivotal for the visitors in Wellington.
Discipline has long been an issue for this side but they showed they can get some pay and dominance without pushing the line of the law against the Hurricanes, an experience that could come in handy as the season goes on.
5. Koroibete needs to find some form
The competition for outside back spots is as tight as any when it comes to Wallabies selection and Marika Koroibete is surely slipping down the pecking order.
Was again almost absent against the Hurricanes and struggled to work himself into the game.
It was a tough night all round for the Rebels wingers as they looked inwards to work their way back into the game rather than looking to the edges, but this was no one-off for Koroibete.
A player with the pace and ability of Koroibete needs to try and assert themselves on the contest.
The winger hasn’t scored a try since round four of this season despite playing 80 minutes in the past five matches.
Something clearly isn’t clicking for the Wallabies winger and he needs to figure out how to return to his finishing ways in the coming weeks if he wants to assure himself of a World Cup spot.