Beaten Rebels plan to throw everything at Waratahs
FRUSTRATED Melbourne Rebels coach Dave Wessels is demanding a stern response from his Super Rugby team against the Waratahs after their lacklustre effort in Friday night's loss to the Stormers.
The Australian conference competition leaders crashed back to earth in an uncharacteristically sloppy performance, allowing the Stormers to score five tries in a 41-24 win at Melbourne's AAMI Park.
The Cape Town side, which had lost their previous three games on tour, played with desperation.
That's something Wessels wants to see from his team against the Waratahs at the SCG next Saturday night.
"We were beaten in the contact areas, we were beaten in the effort areas - something that we've been very proud about all year," he said.
"We've got to figure out and be honest about why that's happened, because we've got a hell of a game next week."
The coach said his team had been guilty of taking shortcuts through the week, buoyed by the recent success that had moved them seven points clear of the chasing pack.
But that won't be the case against the Waratahs, who will be fresh after coming off a bye.
"I think we've been playing well and we felt good and we felt we could do 80 or 90 per cent of the prep and get away with it," Wessels said.
"This is our seventh game in the block so maybe there's a bit of fatigue on board, but that's what it takes to be a championship team.
"You can't pick and choose your moments and rock into things halfheartedly because you get a smack, which is what happened."
Apart from skipper Dane Haylett-Petty, who is still sidelined with a toe injury, Melbourne are set to be back to full strength against NSW, with injured trio hooker Anaru Rangi, lock Matt Philip and winger Jack Maddocks available.
They missed the go-forward of Rangi and Philip and the finishing of Wallabies back Maddocks, who led the Super Rugby try-scoring heading into the round.
Wessels said taking on the Australian heavyweights on their home turf was the perfect way to rebound from the disappointment and they would be throwing everything at it.
"If someone had offered me you can either beat the Stormers or the Waratahs, I'll take the Waratahs," he said.
"So that one's still on the table but we've got to make ourselves right in the next couple of days to still make that happen.
"We're going into a rest week after the Waratahs game, so we can absolutely pour everything into this week and get some time off at the end of that."