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Super Rugby: Waratahs can’t afford Rebels slip-up

After suffering their first-ever defeat at the hand of Fijian Drua in Lautoka on Saturday, head coach Darren Coleman will be looking for a response from his NSW Waratahs side when they host the Melbourne Rebels on Friday night.

With just one win in their first five games of the Super Rugby Pacific campaign, it’s been far from the start the Waratahs would have hoped for.

While the Rebels have already secured two wins this season, Friday offers a good opportunity for the Tahs to kick-start their campaign, especially with ground to make up on the teams above.

Tahs taught a tough lesson in Lautoka

A 39-36 encounter against Drua in Fiji was a thrilling game for the neutral but one that will have left Coleman with plenty to think about as the Waratahs flew back to Australia.

A game that shifted in the balance multiple times during the contest, the match was finally decided seven minutes into golden-point extra time with Kemu Valetini’s drop goal.

The tropical conditions at Churchill Park certainly had an impact but there won’t be too many excuses from Coleman, who will know his side should have won the game when Peni Matawalu was given his marching orders for the hosts in extra time.

Tane Edmed’s missed drop goal proved costly and now the Tahs will have to rest and recover before going again against the Rebels on Friday night.

The Waratahs are the firm favourites to come out on top on home soil at 1.22, in what already feels like a big game in the battle to finish in a favourable finals spot.

Rebels will know defence is key

Having conceded 54 points last time out against the Hurricanes, the Rebels will know they need to start sharpening up their performance without the ball.

In attack, the Melbourne outfit looked good and scoring 28 points in Palmerston North should have put them in with a genuine chance of claiming a scalp against the Hurricanes last Friday.

However, the Rebels well-documented issues in defence and ill-discipline in the penalty count ensured it was the hosts who came away with the spoils.

Head coach Kevin Foote will know his side can’t afford another slow start but if they do get at the Waratahs from the off, they could be in for a real contest.

The Rebels are 4.33 to cause an upset and claim a victory on the road, while in the Line market, the visitors might be worth considering with +10.5 points at 1.91.

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