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Thwarted Rebels fight all the way to season's end

Date

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 …''

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 0vs FJI 0 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00Olym
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00Olym
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45Olym
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45Olym
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00Olym
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 

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