Rebels coach upbeat despite loss

Melbourne Rebels coach Tony McGahan remains upbeat about the development of his side despite Friday’s 38-13 Super Rugby loss to the Highlanders at AAMI Park.

A positive start to the season for the Rebels has been tempered following consecutive home defeats against New Zealand opposition.

McGahan noted similarities in the manner of losses to the Highlanders and Hurricanes, last year’s finalists, with a lack of execution under pressure playing a part in their downfall.

“Plenty of endeavour but, at the end of it, you need some really good execution,” said McGahan, who referred specifically to errors in exiting their own half, defending against kicks and intercepts.

The Hurricanes capitalised on each of these aspects to run in four first half tries, setting up their fourth straight bonus point win.

“You take those (errors) away, we are probably in the contest,” added McGahan.

“But that’s the nature of it so you can’t dismiss it and say we were unlucky, we were close. We weren’t.

“They were very good and they put the blowtorch on us. And that’s why the scoreline reads as it does.

“They put us under good pressure, they defended really well tonight, I thought, and they are a very, very good side.”

When questioned on how to fix his sides execution issues, McGahan expressed confidence in his players learning to make better decisions in order to match it with the best teams in the competition.

“We’ve got the solutions. We have great kickers, we’ve got the skill. We have just got to get better tactically,” said McGahan.

“We’ve got an excellent group who play hard for each other but, as we said in the dressing room, we have all those really good elements. Our challenge is to go to the next level.”

The Rebels will host the Cheetahs this Friday with an injury cloud hanging over Dom Shipperley after the winger limped off early against the Hurricanes.

Shipperley had opened the scoring by crossing for the Rebels’ 100th try at AAMI Park before leaving the field.

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