In the famous words of Homer Simpson upon seeing his roast pig airborne: "It's still good, it's still good!" Just two games into the season and the Melbourne Rebels have had two very different results.
A solid pre-season followed by a 21 point win in their first match of the season against the Cheetahs in round 3 had Rebels fans thinking that this season was going to see some mass improvement. Head coach Tony McGahan worked the squad hard during pre-season, and the performance shown against the Cheetahs was better than the majority of rugby seen by Melbourne in the three years before that. Hope was high in Melbourne.
And then came the crashing loss last weekend against the Force. Many pundits and Rebels fans alike had predicted a Rebels victory given the events leading up to this match were all in Melbourne's favour, and the Force historically hadn't had the best record against the Rebels, nor had they had a good first two matches of this season either.
So where to now for the Rebels? Well, back to their first match obviously. The back-slapping received from the public after the Cheetahs game may've made the Rebels a little content with themselves, but all is not lost either, even after a game like that against the Force -- the Rebels can most certainly go back to their winning ways.
There is no doubt in my mind that Bryce Hegarty will start at flyhalf ahead of Angus Roberts, nor is there any doubt that Tom English will come back on the wing in place of Tom Kingston. English went down with a virus before the game in Perth, hence his absence from the squad, and the Rebels sorely missed him. He was one of the best players in round 3, and in that game he encapsulated everything that Melbourne need to do in order to win.
The Rebels just need to take the game on. In the round 3 match at AAMI Park, the team looked like a pack of hungry, vicious dogs who were anticipating every turnover, causing every fumble, running hard at the defenders, breaking the lines, and making the smart passes. Last round against the Force, they were a litter of shy puppies wondering how a game of rugby is meant to be played.
The intent needs to return this weekend, and the anger needs to be present. The Rebels know they can get a result against the Crusaders -- as they have shown in the past -- and letting the result against the Force slip after knowing they really should've won it will do nothing if not get them fired up and raring for another win.
How do you think the Rebels will respond this week? Will the squad be flat following their loss to the Force? Or motivated, knowing what they're capable of given their first week result?