After five games in the regular season, the Chiefs were rock bottom in the New Zealand conference and lost their star fullback, Damian McKenzie. On the other hand, the Rebels were the form team in the Australian conference.
Banking a win over the Sunwolves, Melbourne Rebels coach Dave Wessels says he won’t look at the Super Rugby ladder and is instead just focused on winning.
Melbourne Rebels coach Dave Wessels knows his team are leading the Australian Super Rugby standings but don’t ask him by how much.
The Rebels opened up a seven-point margin on their nearest rivals, the NSW Waratahs, as they ran in six tries in a commanding 42-15 win over the Sunwolves at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
Playing at fullback, Reece Hodge bagged a hat-trick to underline his World Cup credentials.
But Wessels has made a point this season of not looking at the competition ladder after they were burnt last year, fading to finish ninth overall and just miss the play-offs.
“A seven-point lead feels good but if you hadn’t of told me that I wouldn’t have known,” Wessels said.
“One of the things I made a mistake with last year was getting all mixed up in all kinds of permutations and things we had to do.
“I realised that the only thing we can control is making sure that our performances every week get that little bit better so I’ve resolved to never look at the table – it’s just a little discipline that my focus in on our team and trying to win every game that we can and to get that little bit better every week and so far I’m probably a lot happier because of that.”
While the backs, including Hodge, Billy Meakes, Quade Cooper and Will Genia, got all the try-scoring action, Wessels was particularly pleased their defence limited to Sunwolves to just two tries, both scored by winger Semisi Masirewa.
He felt the Rebels were showing growing maturity and resilience in the face of mounting pressure from their opponents, pin-pointing a period just after half-time when they held them up over the tryline.
“Had they scored then it could have been a different game,” Wessels said.
“I’m really proud because I think in the past we would let some soft moments creep into our game but we threw bodies under the ball, we held them up and we managed to get out of there and survive that part of the game which in the end proved pivotal.
“That’s the resilience that we’re building as a team in those tough moments.”