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Super Rugby
Rebels lament lost opportunity
May 3, 2014
The Sharks are the first South African side to win in Australia or New Zealand in 2014 (video available only in Australia)

Melbourne Rebels are kicking themselves after blowing a chance to beat the Super Rugby-leading Sharks, losing 22-16 at AAMI Park in stark contrast to the record 64-7 drubbing in the corresponding match in Durban last season.

"It was a fantastic opportunity to knock off the top team and there's no-one else to blame but ourselves," Higginbotham said after the Rebels dominated the game stats but were left ruing poor execution with the ball going to ground on many attacking raids. The Sharks' sole try came after a Rebels turnover, the visitors counter-attacking with winger JP Pietersen picking up the points.

Mitch Inman of the Rebels runs with the ball, Rebels v Sharks, Super Rugby, AAMI Park, Melbourne, May 2, 2014
Mitch Inman and the Rebels did not execute well enough © Getty Images
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"We lost that game," Higginbotham said. "I don't think they won it so it's disappointing."

Rebels coach Tony McGahan said the disappointment was testimony to the team's new-found self-belief. "You see the disappointment with myself and Scott and the group about where we are now, to be disappointed to not beat the top side," he said. "We're in the fight now but we need to start turning these in."

Higginbotham said the Rebels they weren't far off becoming contenders themselves. "We're obviously playing some good football and we're doing a lot of hard work to get into good positions," he said. "it's just that next step."

The Sharks next face Australian conference leaders the Brumbies in coach Jake White's first game back in Canberra since his shock departure late last year. And White said he was looking forward to facing the team that he remembered fondly. "I had some wonderful times there and have some great mates who are playing for the Brumbies," White said. "Hopefully it will be a top-of-the-table clash which make me immensely proud to know that I was part of both these teams."

© AAP

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