Turns out it wasn’t just the emotion of Quade Cooper and Will Genia facing their old team behind Melbourne’s Super Rugby victory over Queensland.
The ex-Reds were key in the Rebels’ 32-13 victory at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night, but it was fury at their performance against the Sharks in Durban which sparked the visitors’ display.
Rebels coach David Wessels said while there’s no shame in losing to the South African franchise away from home, the manner of the defeat had led to plenty of soul-searching.
“We had a pretty honest conversation on Monday, first as staff and then as players,” Wessels said.
“There’s a certain standard that we expect from each other and we didn’t deliver that in Durban last week.
“It was important that we reacted to that and did more of the things that we expect of each other.”
Rebels captain Angus Cottrell believed brutal honesty had played a pivotal role his team’s turnaround.
The Rebels made 20 handling errors and were outplayed at scrum-time by the Sharks in the 28-14 loss.
On Saturday the Rebels were dominant throughout, their forward pack battering the Reds in the scrum and line-out, while they had almost two-thirds of possession.
“We reviewed pretty hard, just that intensity level. We weren’t bringing it against the Sharks, going away from our game, so on Monday it was pretty tough,” Cottrell said.
“We had a couple of good days in training and obviously it resulted in a good performance.”
The win lifted the Rebels to the top of the Australian conference after the Waratahs’ shock loss to the Sunwolves on Friday.
Wessels was delighted to be in such a position six games in to the campaign and with a fortnight in South Africa behind them.
“We’ve won two away Aussie derbies which is good and we’ve also got our longest, or heaviest, travel block behind us now,” Wessels said.
“We need to consolidate now this week at home.”
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