Melbourne coach Tony McGahan says the Rebels’ Super Rugby loss to the Blues is indicative of the patchy form of Australian teams compared to the New Zealand sides.
In a game that pitted the top-placed Australian side against New Zealand’s bottom team, it was the Rebels who looked like the battlers despite being in it until the end before falling short 36-30.
All Kiwi sides other than the Blues have more competition points than the Rebels, with real fears for Australia’s hopes in the upcoming Bledisloe Cup series against the All Blacks.
“We were pretty competitive against Auckland but the tables rarely lie,” McGahan said.
“Where you finish and what you get you usually deserve so that’s the way it is at this point in time.”
Melbourne were searching for a record fourth win away from home but some embarrassing first-half defence made it an uphill battle.
They missed 30 tackles, including 18 in the first half.
“Our attack looked a bit better and I think we kicked better but it was our defence which let us down which was unusual for us,” McGahan said.
“We usually make sides earn their tries but tonight we were passive and unable to compete with their strong one-out runners.”
After trailing 36-18, the Rebels surprisingly had a chance to win the game, with late tries to Colby Fainga’a and Sefa Naivalu getting them to within striking distance with just over 10 minutes left.
Trailing by six, they had a lineout five metres from the tryline with two minutes on the clock and attempted to drive the ball over but referee Craig Joubert penalised them for obstruction, ending their hopes.
McGahan lauded their fightback and praised the contribution from the bench but said they gave the Blues too big a start.
“Our issue was 24 points in the first half and two relatively soft tries early in the second it just left us too much to do,” McGahan said.
“There’s a standard from a defence perspective of what we stand for and how we do things and that wasn’t evident there for the first 50 minutes so that’s something we need to address.”