Defeat leaves Rebels' Super finals at risk

The Melbourne Rebels could have all but secured a Super Rugby AU finals berth with a win over the Western Force, but a late lapse could prove very costly.

Head Coach DAVE WESSELS.
Head Coach DAVE WESSELS. Picture: Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images

Melbourne Rebels coach Dave Wessels blamed execution rather than effort as his side put their Super Rugby AU finals berth in major jeopardy with a late capitulation against the Western Force.

The Rebels led a gritty AAMI Park match until the 77th minute when Domingo Miotti converted a late try for the Force.

The hosts were unable to cross the tryline despite having 65 per cent of possession, in a performance that left Wessels frustrated.

"I'm disappointed with the outcome," Wessels said.

"Certainly from a physicality point of view and off the ball effort we had a major response to what we weren't happy with last week but we had so many opportunities to finish that game off.

"We just made too many errors."

A win would have extended Melbourne's advantage over the Force to eight points with two rounds to play, all but securing them a finals berth for the second successive year.

Instead the Force are now just one point behind the Rebels and have their remaining games at home, where they will fancy their chances against the Queensland Reds and the winless Waratahs.

Melbourne host the defending champion Brumbies next Sunday and then travel to Sydney to face the Waratahs and could be without Wallabies utility back Reece Hodge, who suffered a leg knock attempting to kick a long-range drop goal after the siren.

"It's going to be an interesting two weeks now because the Force are obviously now in the mix," Wessels said.

"Everybody is hurting, which shows we care, but the reality is that we didn't play well we need to be tougher on ourselves.

"We talk about things but we need to execute them the way that we plan."

Stand-in skipper Matt Toomua suffered a head knock that forced him off after 65 minutes, but he fronted the post-match press conference and said he should recover in time to face the Brumbies.

Wallabies back-rower Isi Naisarani may be available for the Sunday match, while regular captain Dane Haylett-Petty, who has been sidelined with ongoing concussion symptoms, has resumed some training but is unlikely.