Rebels need to play smart: McGahan

Melbourne Rebels coach Tony McGahan has urged his Super Rugby side to outwit the Sharks by playing smarter rugby.

The Rebels take on the Sharks in Durban early on Saturday morning AEST following a disappointing 31-15 loss to the Stormers.

McGahan said his team’s poor game management was the biggest thing to take out of the loss and they needed to do better against the Sharks as they continue to bid for their first ever win in the republic.

He said they too often took the wrong options; a notable example when, instead of kicking the ball dead to end the first half, hooker Pat Leafa threw an intercepted pass just metres from their tryline for the Stormers to score.

“We had made great strides in how we had managed games and minimised errors that were big momentum shifts in games so it was disappointing,” he said.

McGahan felt his team tried to play too much “ball in hand rugby”, which played into the hands of South African opposition.

“Our big improvement this week needs to be that we’re all on the same page and respect the environment we are playing in.

“We can’t be caught up playing rugby in the wrong parts. We probably got caught out three or four times through the high ball exiting our end, which led to scrums, which then led to penalties.

“They don’t play a lot of rugby and we have to understand what they are trying to do and be aware of that.”

Prop Toby Smith (back) and try-scoring winger Sefa Naivalu (concussion) will be available for selection after missing the Stormers match, while veteran centre Tamati Ellison is still under an injury cloud with a groin problem.

The Sharks struggled on their Australasian tour, winning just one match against the struggling Reds last Friday.

They will be without star goal-kicking centre Francois Steyn, who has pectoral muscle injury, while lock Stephan Lewies has also suffered a knee injury that has ended his season.

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