The Melbourne Rebels were left frustrated by a run of six successive penalties in the second half of their 25-15 loss to the Hurricanes.
The Melbourne Rebels insist they don’t have a discipline problem despite penalties helping cruel their chances of an upset Super Rugby victory over the Hurricanes.
The Rebels lost the AAMI Park match to the Wellington high-flyers 25-15 but were well in the hunt at half-time, trailing 12-10.
In the opening 13 minutes of the second half, when they were looking to build some momentum, they were penalised six times in succession at the breakdown.
Centre Mitch Inman, who was responsible for one of those penalties, said the team was puzzled by the interpretation of rookie referee Matt O’Brien.
“We didn’t have a clear definition of what the ref was trying to ping us for at the breakdown because that’s our strong point,” Inman said.
“We were trying to capitalise and force the turnovers in that area but it just wasn’t going our way with a few of the calls at the maul and the breakdown.”
Inman didn’t think there was an issue with discipline.
“We only give out on average 10 or 11 penalties which is pretty good.
“I wouldn’t say that’s (discipline) the issue.
“We fight and we try to counter-ruck and really hit that breakdown and it just wasn’t going our way with decisions and you can’t blame that but we’re a bit perplexed with what was going on in that area.”
Coach Tony McGahan said he had previously sought clarification from SANZAR about the breakdown but had been frustrated by lack of feedback.
Hurricanes skipper Conrad Smith said he thought O’Brien was fairly even-handed, with the penalty count finishing at 12-11, and that the Rebels did push the boundaries with their aggression at the breakdown.
The Rebels still need another three more wins to eclipse last season’s tally of five, and next face two tough challenges against the Reds in Brisbane and NSW in Melbourne.
They announced on Saturday they had signed halfback Josh Holmes to cover for Nic Stirzaker, who is unlikely to play again this season due to another ankle injury.
Holmes, 27, has played with NSW, the Brumbies and the Western Force and is currently playing club rugby in Sydney with Warringah.
His older brother Luke had two seasons with the Rebels from 2011.