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Rebels hope to rebound after Super bye

NZN 1/04/2017 Melissa Woods

A winless Melbourne will use their second bye to lick their wounds before attempting to salvage their Super Rugby season.

The Rebels were trounced 51-12 by the Highlanders - the side sitting last in the New Zealand conference - on Friday night, providing further evidence of the gulf between the two rugby nations.

They will have a few days off before taking on the Brumbies, who themselves were pipped by the Highlanders in round five.

They are hopeful of regaining Test flanker Sean McMahon for what would be his first match of the season following ankle surgery.

After two promising performances against the Chiefs and Waratahs in which they blew second half leads, the Rebels were never in the hunt against the Highlanders, who were up 20-0 at halftime.

Skipper Nic Stirzaker said early handling errors proved costly.

"We put ourselves under pressure with the dropped ball especially in our own half," he said.

"We had to tackle the house down in that first half and I guess it just caught up with us in the end."

Melbourne coach Tony McGahan felt his team were "strangled" by a better side but didn't help themselves.

"We fought hard, through effort and a few things but then we fought and got the ball back and then we gave it back cheaply and hence they scored and all that good work's gone to waste," McGahan said.

"It's certainly a tough one to take, as you can imagine, so we'll need to dust ourselves off and we need to get back on to it."

McGahan said it wasn't too late to make something of the season but they needed results pronto.

"We've got a big eight weeks in front of us.

"The competition is still in touch but we don't have too many weeks where we can't come away with anything so we need to roll the sleeves up and get stuck into it."

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