The Melbourne Rebels will look to pounce on a weary Sharks outfit to try to rescue their South African tour with a win in Durban next week.
The Rebels blew a solid chance to gain their first ever Super Rugby victory on South African soil with a frustrating 31-15 loss to the Stormers at Newlands.
Despite having 67 per cent of possession, they were at times their own worst enemy.
Hooker Pat Leafa had a costly brain explosion after the half-time siren that gifted the Stormers a try and swung momentum back the Cape Town side’s way.
Instead of booting the ball into touch while they were on their own tryline, he passed the ball straight into the arms of Stormers winger Dillyn Leyds, who strolled across for the first of his two tries and pushed the margin out to 18-7.
After that blow they scrambled to score two second half tries through centre Dom Shipperley and winger Tom English but couldn’t close the margin on the Stormers, who moved to top of the South African conference and third overall.
Rebels skipper Scott Higginbotham lamented their high error count and said a video review of the match would be painful to watch.
“It’s going to be a tough one to review because our errors would have been through the roof and that’s disappointing,” Higginbotham said.
“We played some great football but credit to the Stormers, they really kept it in play for 80 minutes.”
Rebels coach Tony McGahan said there was still a lot to like about the performance ahead of their clash with the Sharks next Sunday (AEST).
“We take a lot of positives out of that performance despite the result, however a lack of composure at our end provided them with some easy points,” McGahan said.
“It’s a very tough place to come and play and with finals on the horizon, it was a really important game for them and they’re a quality side.”
Like Melbourne, the Sharks are out of the running for the finals – fourth in their conference and one place behind the Rebels in 11th overall.
The Rebels will be hoping the Sharks will find the going tough after returning from a disappointing Australia and New Zealand trip that only yielded one win.
They are coming off a scrappy 21-14 win over the lowly Reds in Brisbane which was their sole victory of their four game tour, losing to the Waratahs, Hurricanes and Highlanders.
The Rebels should have their three injured players, centre Tamati Ellison, winger Sefanaia Naivalu and prop Toby Smith, available.