Record breaking just the start for Rebels
Scoring a franchise record 45 points en route to a season-opening win wasn’t even the best part of the Rebels’ win over the Reds, according to coach Dave Wessels.
The Rebels were comprehensive in the 45-19 win but, for Wessels, spotting signs of a team that can claim an Australian Conference title from the coaching box was far more pleasing.
“We’re really pleased with the win,” Wessels said post-match.
“We just reminded the boys that’s the most points the Rebels have ever scored so for us, to be able to do that in such a short space of time is pretty special.
“I’m not saying that we are a championship team but I’m saying that we have some parts of our DNA, if we cultivate them and we work hard at them over the next couple of months, I think we can become a very good team.”
Melbourne were scrappy in the opening exchanges and Wessels pinpointed an early lost lineout as a moment he saw something he liked among the group.
Rather than fall to pieces Melbourne made some minor tweaks and were the dominant side at lineout time for the remainder of the night, claiming clean ball on their own throw and making life hell for Reds halfbacks James Tuttle and later, Tate McDermott.
“I think the thing that really made me pleased was during the breaks in play you would look at the field and see all the Rebels guys together, in and around each other talking about the game,” Wessels said.
“They looked like a team and I think that, more than anything else, that’s the thing that stands out for me.”
Wessels puts that willingness to work as a group – in spite of unprecedented player turnover – down to the work the players have put in off-field.
“We needed to be bold in getting the group to mould together over the last couple of the months and to the boys’ credit, they’ve done that,” he said.
“To go and sit at lunch with someone you might not know takes you out of your comfort zone and I think the boys have done a great job of doing those things.”
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“This is an aspirational group and we need to enjoy the win, for sure, but we also need to realise that the performance wasn’t perfect,” he said.
“We accept that because there have been so many changes in the group there is always going to be that lack of cohesion or lack of rhythm at different times.
“We are under no illusions that we need to get better from here.”