The Waratahs are heading into the final round of Harvey Norman Super Rugby AU hoping to end their season on a high, while the Melbourne Rebels are desperately trying to keep their finals hopes alive needing a win and some help from the Reds to secure a playoff berth.
The Waratahs and Rebels last faced off in Round 5, with the Rebels running out 33-14 winners in an emotional return to AAMI Park, with the Melbourne side playing their first match at home in over a year.
Waratah’s assistant coach Matt Cockbain acknowledged his side were well off their best that match, and despite seeing improvements in the past two matches against the Brumbies and the Force, a strong showing is not a given.
“We were well beaten that night. We got a couple of late tries but we felt that we were well off the pace,” Cockbain said.
“The last two matches have been better, but we have to come out and make sure we’re on again.
“What happened last week doesn’t mean that we’re going to play well this week. We need to make sure we aim up, and that’s a mental approach more than anything.
“So, If the boys get that right and they’re in the right frame of mind we’ll be in the fight.”
The Rebels finals hopes are still alive and need a win against the Waratahs and then the Reds to defeat the Force in their match on Friday night.
Dave Wessels has made some interesting selections with his side for the do or die clash, leaving some big names on the bench, with Cockbain expecting the away side to try and run over the top of the Waratahs late in the game.
“The way they’ve picked their team, they’ve picked some of their starters on the bench,” Cockbain said.
“We know they want to finish strong which means for our bench they have to match them if we’re going to come away with a victory”
Despite not having a finals place to play for, Waratahs winger James Ramm said there was still plenty of motivation for the home side.
“It’s more about focusing on our emotional energy, turning it inwards and being aware that there’s a lot on the line for them,” Ramm said.
“However, there’s as much if not more for us, to finish off the season with a win is massive for us.”