Rebels maintain finals hope
A FIRST-ever finals berth remains one of four possible finishing scenarios available to the Melbourne Rebels but the "win and we're in" mantra is dominating talk ahead of this weekend's final round.
Despite back-to-back losses in the last two weeks, first to the Waratahs and then the Reds, the Rebels can still finish as high as sixth on the table, pending results in the last round of home and away games this weekend.
The Melbourne outfit, which has never played finals in eight seasons of competition, could also finish seventh or eighth, and play a first ever final in Sydney, Johannesburg, Buenos Aires or even Christchurch.
Or the Rebels, currently in eighth place, could miss out entirely given the amount of variables on offer across a final round which includes games being played in three countries.
The clash in Durban between the ninth placed Sharks and Jaguares, in seventh, looms large for the Rebels where a win either way could determine where Melbourne ends up.
But before then victory against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday afternoon, a team the Rebels haven't beaten since 2013, is the best way for coach Dave Wessels' men to progress to the post-season.
"I think we can beat them for sure. We've got to run our equivalent of our 9.9 second 100m sprint, and if we can do that we are in with a real shout," Wessels said on Monday.
"We've still got out destiny in our own hands which is a great place to be going in to the last round. We have to take advantage of that now.
"You can spend a lot of emotional energy trying to do the maths … but that's not going to matter."
The Melbourne cause should be helped by the return of star scrum-half Will Genia from injury. But full back Dane Haylett-Petty remains under an injury cloud after hyper-extending his knee against the Reds last Friday.