Stand-in Melbourne skipper Sean McMahon bemoaned his side’s under-par performance as the Rebels’ South African Super Rugby hoodoo continued against the Bulls in Pretoria.
The visitors slumped to an 11th straight loss on African soil as the Bulls strolled to a 45-25 victory with former Springboks winger Bjorn Basson crossing for a hat-trick of tries.
The Bulls led 28-3 at halftime and stormed out to 45-3 advantage after the restart before the Rebels added some respectability to the scoreline with second-half five-pointers from Jonah Placid, James Hanson and a brace from Ben Meehan.
“The second half is where we should have been performing but we let ourselves down in the first half,” McMahon said.
“We’re on the road but that’s no excuse.
Despite the manner of the loss, Rebels coach Tony McGahan remained upbeat with his side forced to do without injured quartet Reece Hodge (quad), captain Nic Stirzaker (shoulder), Mike Harris (quad), and flanker Colby Faingaa (elbow).
“We had a few issues, we lost a few guys along the way in the last little period but I believe we had the squad that could get the job done tonight, no doubt,” McGahan told AAP.
“I think what really hurt us is there is that we bombed two tries in the first half and we coped well with it all on the front foot.
“We gave up four tries two minutes either side of halftime, so there was a big momentum shift at the back end of the half and the beginning of the second half and it really cost us.
McGahan admitted the team’s the poor record on the road in South Africa is a concern and his players need to find a cure for their travel sickness.
“It’s not easy but it’s hard this competition to deal with it (the travel),” he said.
“We travelled really well, but the last few years the results haven’t been there but the players are getting there so we’ll keep knocking on the door.
“There’s a lot of sides that haven’t won over here … so we need to make sure we keep getting better.”
The Rebels will now turn their focus to securing a win over the Queensland Reds next week on home soil.
“It will keep us grounded, there’s no doubt about that,” McGahan said.
“We’ll make sure we recover and travel well and be absolutely keen because Super Rugby demands you being at your best every week.”