Despite a frustrating season-opening defeat to long-time strugglers the Sunwolves, Melbourne Rebels are not panicking.
After just missing out on a breakthrough finals appearance last year, the Rebels needed to open their 2020 campaign with a victory.
The trip to Japan is never a holiday, but most teams have been able to get the job done during the Sunwolves’ five seasons in the competition.
Not this time.
The Sunwolves racked up a win in the opening round for the first time with a deserved 36-27 success over Dave Wessels’ team.
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The Rebels were down by as much as 21 points in the second-half, but two late tries almost gave them a chance to pinch the win.
Captain Dane Haylett-Petty is backing the Rebels to turn it around quickly as the new-look team continues to gel.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) February 1, 2020
“We’re disappointed with that. Plenty for us to work on and plenty of time left in the season so we’ll go away and work hard,” Haylett-Petty said.
“I think when we started building a bit of momentum (in the second half) they were able to slow our ball down and make some crucial tackles.
“(We need to work on) our defence, we leaked too many points there and the Sunwolves played with speed and we weren’t able to get set in time.”
Wallabies five-eighth Matt Toomua and Fijian international Frank Lomani started off their halves partnership after the departures of former Wallabies Will Genia and Quade Cooper during the off-season.
With the Sunwolves bowing out of Super Rugby at the end of this season after being axed by administrators, they loom as a dangerous prospect for teams travelling to Japan.
Catch up on all the highlights from this Round 4 Top League clash between Toyata Verblitz and Honda Heat:
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