Super Rugby round seven
Rebels coach vows to 'stop the rot'
March 31, 2013
Try time for the Rebels' Lachlan Mitchell, Melbourne Rebels v Western Force, Super Rugby, AAMI Park, Melbourne, Australia, March 23, 2012
Lachlan Mitchell is in doubt after limping off for the Melbourne Rebels © Getty Images

Frustrated Melbourne Rebels coach Damien Hill says he needs to find a way to "stop the rot" after his team slumped to their fifth successive Super Rugby defeat.

The Rebels finished their South African tour with a 34-16 loss to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

It was a vast improvement on their franchise-record 64-7 thrashing by the Sharks, which was compounded by the suspension of Australia players Wallabies Kurtley Beale and Cooper Vuna for fighting in the hours after the Durban game with the pair sent home.

But not good enough for Hill, who is under mounting pressure in his position.

Since their round-one victory over the Western Force, their opponents in Perth next Saturday night, the Rebels haven't found a way to win.

"It was a bit better but our attack is what's really letting us down at the moment," said Hill. "There's a big disconnect at the moment between our planning, what we train and then what we do out there so it's very frustrating. We've got to stop the rot; we need to find a way."

The Rebels were in the hunt against the in-form Cheetahs midway through the second half, trailing 17-9, but three tries within eight minutes blew them out of the game.

Two were scored while lock Luke Jones was off the field with a yellow card after a late shot on Cheetahs winger Willie Le Roux as he put a kick through.

Hill believed the team's confidence was still "shattered" by the heavy loss to the Sharks, which affected its belief in its attack.

Too often Melbourne's endeavour came unstuck by a poor pass or a turnover at the breakdown. Skipper Gareth Delve was an obvious guilty party when he threw a no-look pass to no-one after a break early in the second half.

Even worse, miscommunication between scrum-half Nick Phipps and No.8 Scott Higginbotham at the back of a scrum 20 metres from the line led to the Cheetahs' first try just minutes before half-time, handing the home side a 10-6 lead.

The Cheetahs maintained their winning run against Australian teams (video available in Australia only)

"That shouldn't happen between two Wallabies," Hill said. "They've got to learn to treasure possession a lot more than they're doing at the moment."

The starting debut of prop Paul Alo-Emile and another youngster flanker Jordy Reid were two positives from the match, while Wallabies fullback James O'Connor did all he could to spark the side.

The Rebels will have Vuna back for the Perth game while Beale, who was guilty of punching both Vuna and Delve, remains suspended indefinitely.

Centre Lachlan Mitchell could be in doubt after limping off early in the second half.


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