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Thwarted Rebels fight all the way to season's end


Stathi Paxinos

Nick Phipps of the Rebels tackles James Kamana of the Lions during last week's encounter.

Nick Phipps of the Rebels tackles James Kamana of the Lions during last week's encounter. Photo: Getty Images

THE Melbourne Rebels insist that despite the curtain being brought down on their season in rather an anti-climax in South Africa, there would be no lack of motivation in tonight's game against the Stormers.

The Rebels have had their moments this season, particularly in an exciting midyear period when they narrowly lost to the Bulls, then snatched the upset of the year against the Crusaders and followed up with a one-point win over the Western Force.

There have also been a number of narrow losses where the Rebels showed promise, especially when Wallabies stars Kurtley Beale and James O'Connor have been on the field, which has not been as often as had been hoped because of injuries.

In the end, the Rebels' season has come to a painful end on the back of four consecutive losses, including last week's disappointing performance against the bottom-placed Lions, leaving the Melbourne team 12th with four wins before tonight's game.

The Rebels' season finale in Cape Town will be the final game for a host of veterans who provided a solid foundation for the team that came into the Super Rugby season last year.

Foundation skipper Stirling Mortlock leads the list that also includes fellow retirees Adam Freier, Al Campbell and Michael Lipman as well as Mark Gerrard (Japan), Julian Huxley (France), Tom Chamberlain and Adam Byrnes.

''I spoke to the players about it and there are some mixed emotions amongst the players … but I'm confident it's a positive,'' Rebels coach Damien Hill said yesterday. ''They all want to do well and do well for each other.

''They know that the opportunity that they had last week against the Lions was one that they lost but then the second-half performance had a lot of positives in it and that's what we need to bring from the first whistle against the Stormers.

''It is the final game for a number of players, it also can be the springboard for the players who are staying for our pre-season into next year, so it is important that we finish on a good note.'' Mortlock said despite the daunting prospect of playing South Africa's top-ranked team, ''we're not short of inspiration to get ourselves up to try and play as well as we can for this one''.

''The Stormers are top of the South African conference and second on the ladder. They're an outstanding team and they have very, very strong structures and very, very good defensive line.''

Hill said Luke Jones has an ankle injury and he would decide after yesterday's final training session whether Cooper Vuna or Lachlan Mitchell would start on the wing.

Meanwhile, Rebels breakaway Jarrod Saffy will have more scans on his damaged neck in October to determine his playing future after test results showed a bulging disc had not sufficiently improved during his three-month layoff.

Saffy, who hurt his neck in training in April, saw his neurosurgeon yesterday and received mixed news. ''It was very similar to the last scan,'' he said. ''[The specialist] said it was best to give it another three months … have another look and maybe there'll be a bit more healing and I might be able to get away without surgery …''

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 47vs TGA 9 Report Stats
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 33vs SCO 36 Report Stats
AUS 15vs WAL 6 Report Stats
ENG 60vs URU 3 Stats
ARG 64vs NAM 19 Report Stats
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 32vs ROM 22 Report Stats
FRA 9vs IRE 24 Report Stats
USA 18vs JPN 28 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 23vs WAL 19 Stats
NZL 62vs FRA 13 Report Stats
IRE 20vs ARG 43 Report Stats
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
AUS 35vs SCO 34 Stats
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 18vs NZL 20 Stats
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 15vs AUS 29 Stats
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 24vs ARG 13 Stats
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
NZL 34vs AUS 17 Stats
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 106 17
Wales 4 3 1 0 49 13
England 4 2 2 0 58 11
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 4 0 4 0 -196 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 4 3 1 0 43 14
Japan 4 3 1 0 -2 12
Samoa 4 1 3 0 -55 6
USA 4 0 4 0 -106 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
Argentina 4 3 1 0 109 15
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 4 0 4 0 -104 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 99 18
France 4 3 1 0 57 14
Italy 4 2 2 0 -14 10
Romania 4 1 3 0 -69 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
View all

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