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Rebels looking to bounce back after 'embarrassing' Reds performance

Tue, 22/02/2022, 5:56 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
The Reds hosted the Rebels opening round of Super Rugby Pacific.

Rebels backrower Brad Wilkin admits a brutal review session following their 'embarrassing' defeat to the Reds has them fired up on their Melbourne return against the Western Force.

The Melbourne-based side was well below their best in the wet conditions, conceding a competition-high 23 turnovers during the 18 point defeat.

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“It was a bit of a tough review. We just didn’t really win the contact collisions at the break, that was the key aspect of the game the Reds were a lot better at than us which was very disappointing,” Wilkin told reporters.

“It’s a little bit embarrassing for me to sit there and watch some of the clips put up but it’s a good, tough review to have at the start of the season.

“There’s aspects of that game we know we’re better at and we’ll be looking to rectify this week.

“We can sit there and say the conditions weren’t 100%, they were wet or humid but in reality, we let ourselves down with our execution.

“There’s no excuses moving forward. There’s going to be some accountability on the whole team to fix the errors (from last week)."

After a tough start to the season, the Rebels are boosted by the prospect of playing in front of home fans this Saturday when they welcome the Force to AAMI Park.

It will be their first game at home in 287 days, just their sixth game in Melbourne in nearly two years.

Having gone through several bubbles and last-minute moves, the backrower believes the process has galvanised the squad as they look to give their fans something to cheer about.

“It’s huge for us,” he said. “It’s been close to 300 days since we’ve played at home.

“We’re big on representing Melbourne and doing it for the city so it’s going to be great to get back to AAMI Park, have fans in the stands and hopefully give them something to cheer about.

“It’s been a tough few years so we’re looking forward to creating some memories at AAMI Park with this group.

“It was physically and mentally taxing on the group. We become good at being adaptable and we were used to at by the end after that first bubble in 2020 and then last year, we were on the road so it wasn’t anything new so there was some familiarity there.

“Obviously, it’s tough on families, our coaching staff are exceptional and it’s tough on them as much as it is on the players so we all got around each other and showed loved.

“It’s gone a long way towards building our team and how well-connected we are.”

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It's almost fitting their return will come against the Western Force, who are enjoying their own nomadic journey before their return back to Western Australia next week.

This has Wilkin and the Rebels wary of a fired-up Force side come Saturday, still reeling from a narrow defeat to the Brumbies.

“They’re going to be a tough outfit this weekend,” he added.

“Obviously they’ve had the travel and the six-day turnaround so we’re wary of that but we’re excited to get back to work this week. We know we can get one up on them in terms of preparation.

“It’s definitely always a close game (between the two sides) and I think with most matches this year, especially with the Australian sides, they’re always going to be close and derbies so both teams will get up for it.”

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