Wessels happy with tough, physical win

Melbourne Rebels Head Coach Dave Wessels was full of praise for both his current and former sides, after the Rebels claimed a gutsy 28-12 win over the Western Force at nib Stadium on Saturday night.

The Rebels became the first visiting team to inflict a loss to the Western Force in the new World Series Rugby competition, with the Force playing their third match of the revamped tournament.

In torrential rain, the Rebels’ experience across the park accounted for the tenacious Force outfit, despite the home side taking the lead at the half-hour mark.

But with tries to Jack Debreczeni, Billy Meakes, Tayler Adams and Andrew Tuala, and four unblemished conversions from Adams, the Rebels were able to cruise home for the win.

“I thought it was tough, physical. I think the conditions made the running game that both teams wanted to play pretty tricky,” Wessels said post-match.

“In terms of the intensity, it was right up there.

“I said to (Force coach) Tim (Sampson) at the end of the game, you (the Force) are at the start of something special – it’s not going to happen in five minutes, but you can certainly see that from a character perspective, the Force boys are really playing for each other.

“It’s a contact sport…there’d be something wrong with us if we didn’t have a bit feeling in it both ways.”

Just six players from the Melbourne Rebels side that beat the Blues in Auckland a week ago, featured for the visitors last night.

The Rebels have had a club-high 10 players called into the Qantas Wallabies squad for the Mitsubishi Estate Ireland Series, while Amanaki Mafi is away on duty for Japan and featured in their breakthrough win over Italy on Saturday afternoon.

In spite of that, it was the impact from players such as winger Henry Hutchison, hooker Nathan Charles and prop Pone Fa’amausili; all of whom played a vital part in the win.

“We tried to bring as many of our top players that weren’t injured, as we could,” Wessels said.

“Pretty much everyone else who was fit we tried to bring over and…that was in the spirit in the game.

“We wanted to bring the best players and put our best foot forward and that was genuinely how we were going to support World Series (Rugby).”

The Rebels’ attention will now turn to the end of month when the Super Rugby season re-starts with an Australian Conference-defining clash against the NSW Waratahs on June 29 at AAMI Park.

But the Melbourne coach said they wouldn’t be looking past the fixture during the June international break.

“There was a period in the middle of the year where we were telling people we weren’t looking ahead, but we actually were and we learnt a pretty tough lesson from that,” Wessels said.

“When we got back to the fact that there’s a couple of things in our game that we do really well, keep it really simple and try and play with that intensity.

“In reality, our next challenge is the ‘Tahs’ and that’s a pretty significant challenge. Once we know where that ends up, we’ll worry about the next thing.”

And as for how the coach will spend the short break?

“Probably re-introduce myself to my kids and try and save the marriage!” Wessels laughed.