More road troubles for the Rebels - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

More road troubles for the Rebels

By Melissa Woods 22/04/2011 08:47:13 PM Comments (0)

Another week, another injury and another loss for the Melbourne Rebels.

The Rebels fell to the high-flying Blues 40-23 in their Super Rugby clash on Good Friday in Auckland, again failing to overcome their travel woes.

Similar to last round when skipper Stirling Mortlock was a late withdrawal, Melbourne lost key back Mark Gerrard on game day after he injured his hamstring at their final training session.

That forced a backline reshuffle which disrupted the Rebels early in the match, particularly in defence.

They got off to a painfully slow start, with the Blues dominating possession and territory and crossing for three tries before the Rebels managed their first.

Speedster Rene Ranger scored the opening two, the first when Melbourne five-eighth Danny Cipriani, defending in the centres, dashed up out of the defensive line to leave a massive gap for Ranger to charge through.

Coach Rod Macqueen was at least happy his side showed some grit to claw their way back after a lacklustre effort last round in their loss to the Highlanders.

After a brilliant individual effort by bustling winger Cooper Vuna, and then a try by Lachlan Mitchell, they were down 23-17 at the break.

"We were a lot happier with our form but once again we're disappointed in that slow start," Macqueen said.

"I think it's just a product of having a new side, the combinations, it takes us a while to get going and it's terribly frustrating."

The Blues were again first to score in the second half, through centre Benson Stanley, but the Rebels had them rattled as two penalty kicks by Cipriani put them within five points.

While Cipriani proved valuable adding 13 points with his goal-kicking, Stephen Brett, replacing regular Blues five-eighth Luke McAlister in the starting side, could've cost his side the game, missing 14 points worth of conversions and penalties.

Melbourne toiled hard as they searched for another try before the Blues again took control and crossed twice in the final 10 minutes, through Jared Payne and then Luke Braid, to wrap up the match.

"There were some positives, we were competitive for the most of the game," Macqueen said.

"We were disappointed in some of the refereeing decisions but it didn't cost us the game."

Mortlock said his side, who have only won once away from Melbourne, definitely thought they were in the game at half-time.

"We said we were in the battle, in the fight, we needed to keep on holding on to possession, unfortunately we didn't do that enough and we didn't put them under enough pressure," Mortlock said.

Mortlock was forced off as his back tightened but medical staff thought he should recover in time for next round's clash with the Waratahs.

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