Hill 'sick' Rebels' tight losses
May 12, 2013
The Blues' Francis Saili scores a try in another narrow defeat for the Melbourne Rebels © Getty Images
"Near enough is not good enough", may be the Melbourne Rebels' epitaph for the 2013 season if their run of near losses continues.
Saturday night's 32-36 loss to the Blues in Auckland was the fifth time in a row that the side had finished within a try of its opponents.
"Personally I'm sick of it, sick of bonus points, sick of finishing within that much against very good teams," coach Damien Hill said. "I don't take anything away from the Blues, they're a very good team but...this is a lot better team that what we are seeing.
"The decision has been made by the guys on the pitch to play for the full 80 minutes and it's down to one missed tackle, or one poor kick. One poor decision is the difference at the moment and we continue to work very hard to correct that ... but it's frustrating for everyone involved that we haven't taken that final step and being this close," he said.
Hill said the Rebels produced a fine set-piece performance, flanker Scott Fuglistaller was the best for both teams and the backs had shown their capabilities in attack, especially from first phase.
"There are a lot of positives but frustrations there too," he said.
The loss of fly-half James O'Connor 18 minutes into the match with a suspected sternum injury, which was being x-rayed after the game, had seen the Blues probe an unprepared defence in the subsequent play.
"We've got to be better than that. Whoever takes the field, whenever they take the field has got a role to perform and they need to perform it from the first second not two or three minutes into the game," he said.
Captain Scott Higginbotham said the situation was tough. The team had built well through the year after being criticised at the start of the season for not playing for 80 minutes, but lapses were occurring through the middle stages of the games.
Melbourne Rebels suffer another close defeat to the Blues (Video available in Australia only)%]
Both against the Crusaders and the Chiefs the Rebels had let two tries in, fought back and it had been the same against the Blues. The side was playing for 80 minutes, as had been seen with their last try to secure two bonus points, but it was a case of "near enough not being good enough".
"We've got to switch on in these minor areas - in defence - and once we do that we will let in less tries and score more tries," he said.
Jim Mallinder and Justin Burnell were sat on the same top table, but in different circumstances. Tom Hamilton reports on the Aviva Premiership season launch
Tom Hamilton reports back from the launch of the Guinness PRO12 where there is a renewed sense of optimism with all of the off-field changes to the league
So much for the great Australian revival, writes Greg Growden. It now has the potential of going off the rails after the capitulation at Eden Park
The latest Week in Pictures takes in photographs from the Rugby Championship, the Top 14 and the southern hemisphere domestic scene