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Improved Rebels hoping to rattle Reds

Fri, 02/04/2021, 4:20 am
Melissa Woods - AAP
by Melissa Woods - AAP
Waratahs go into the Easter weekend with confidence as their captain Jake Gordon returns from injury.

Falling just short in their first meeting, Melbourne feel they've got now got more "arrows in their quiver" as they attempt to deliver Queensland's first Super Rugby AU defeat.

The Rebels host the Reds at AAMI Park on Saturday night, with the visitors spending the past week in Sydney after being forced out of their home state by a COVID-19 outbreak.

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Melbourne are coming off the bye and before that a big win over the Waratahs, where their best attacking performance of the season was on show.

They scored three tries, with five-eighth Matt Toomua splitting the Waratahs defence with a chip and regather to score a brilliant individual try.

His battle against fellow Wallabies playmaker, Queensland's James O'Connor will be key, if the Rebels are to be triumphant. 

Melbourne coach Dave Wessels felt his team's attack had evolved since their first clash, which was the Rebels' opening game after a round-one bye.

Big Tongan Thor tried a goose step that would made David Campese proud.

"The Reds have been the pacesetters in the competition so far and are playing very well so we know we need to play well but I think we can challenge them," Wessels told AAP.

"We are happy with the development of our game; we think we've grown our game since we last played the Reds the first time.

"We have more arrows in our quiver.

Melbourne have identified the final quarter of the match as an area for improvement, missing a crucial bonus point by allowing the Waratahs to score two late tries.

Even against the Reds, Alex Mafi's second try to level before O'Connor winning conversion came in the 76th minute.

"We feel like we need to be more ruthless particularly in the back-end of games, we feel like against NSW and also against the Force we dropped off," Wessels said.

Reds scrumhalf Tate McDermott finds a way when others can't.

Reds coach Brad Thorn said his team was in good spirits after their unplanned week on the road and expected another tough contest.

"You could see they were very buoyed to be finally back at home playing and they have improved so we see them as a very big challenge," Thorn said.

He expected the Rebels to make heavy use of their kicking game, and had picked his own line-up to counter that, with plenty of players in the backline able to kick.

Bryce Hegarty has been promoted to fullback, Hamish Stewart is in the centres for his 50th Super Rugby game and Jock Campbell and Jordan Petaia are on the wings.

"They do the most kicking, the Rebels, so you want to be equipped for that type of game," Thorn said.


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