Smashed Rebels too soft up top - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Smashed Rebels too soft up top

Jim Morton 19/03/2011 02:32:45 PM Comments (0)

Five weeks into their difficult Super Rugby baptism, the Melbourne Rebels are back at square one and searching for solutions after being humiliated by the rejuvenated Queensland Reds.

The Rebels were dreadful in capitulating 53-3 to the Reds at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night in a performance which shocked coach Rod Macqueen and distraught skipper Stirling Mortlock.

Queensland returned to something closer to their best for the record thumping, but the lopsided scoreline was more a result of the fledgling team's inability to master the basics on a humid night.

Mortlock bemoaned a poor attitude and master coach Macqueen indicated he'd have to play amateur psychologist to improve the mentality of his wildly inconsistent side, which beat the Brumbies in round two and almost upset the high-flying Sharks last weekend.

"As a team we didn't turn up," Macqueen said.

"We have to figure out why and make sure we're up for it every time we get out for a game and be consistent, and consistency is about understanding the mental side as much as anything else. We have to do some work on that."

Reds coach Ewen McKenzie believed the loss of key duo Mark Gerrard and Michael Lipman, the latest to join a long injury list, made a massive difference to the Rebels, but Macqueen would have no excuses.

"We had a lot of injuries this week and a lot of disruption but the team should still perform better than that," he said.

"We never got off the ground. We never put it together so we never got any go-forward."

The Rebels, never able to build pressure, shot themselves in the foot with terrible handling, highlighted by a botched try over the line by Greg Somerville, poor defence and five lineout mishaps.

Adding to their concerns, surprise-packet Lachlan Mitchell is in doubt for Friday night's clash with the Hurricanes at AAMI Park, with the three-quarter to have X-rays on his hand this weekend.

Macqueen reshuffled his backline to replace Gerrard with Julian Huxley at fullback and would have a headache if Mitchell is sidelined, with his midfield stocks wearing thin. Former English flanker Lipman can't return soon enough to the back-row but he is no certainty of overcoming an ankle problem in time to play the Hurricanes.

Despite the record scoreline, surpassing the Reds' previous biggest winning margin of 40 and highest score of 52 in Super Rugby, McKenzie wasn't happy with at least three wasted try-scoring chances by his side.

But after scoring just three tries in their first three matches, Queensland's seven-try blitz has them well set to enter a block of four straight matches against South African opponents, starting with the Cheetahs in Brisbane on Saturday.

They have a 3-1 record against Australian rivals to sit near the top of the overall standings.

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