Melbourne Rebels chasing three wins in a row
The Melbourne Rebels have kept the pedal to the metal in their quest for their first back-to-back Super Rugby victories this season.
Coming off their last round win over Australian conference pace-setters the Brumbies, coach Tony McGahan has demanded repeat success against the Highlanders in Dunedin tonight.
They will go into the match with four changes from that side losing flanker Colby Faingaa (hip) and winger Tom Kingston (concussion) with Sean McMahon and Male Sau their respective replacements.
For the first time in Super Rugby history their side will start with two Japanese internationals in Sau and hooker Shota Horie, who has earned his first start of the season with Pat Leafa relegated to the bench.
Prop Toby Smith returns from a head knock to start in the front row, with Max Lahiff dropping out of the squad.
McGahan said the Rebels, who have never won abroad, needed to do so if they wanted to become a Super force.
''We're really aware of our results on the road and to be considered to be improving that we need to be able to win on the road,'' McGahan said.
''This represents a really good opportunity for us as a group and now we need to go out and execute.''
While the Rebels are coming off a confidence-boosting win, the Highlanders fell to the Blues in Auckland.
McGahan said he was expecting a fierce battle in the set piece and at the breakdown, while he also rated their backs.
''They've got some real x-factor about them with at Aaron Smith at nine and Ben Smith at 15, they've got some potent attacking players.
''The two Smiths allow them to get a little bit of movement so they can score a try from anything without going through the high phase count.''
After their first win of the season the Rebels admit they got ahead of themselves and were easily rolled by the Western Force.
McGahan said they hadn't made the same mistake twice.
''We were quite buoyant after the trials and the Cheetahs and everyone thought possibly they just turn up and things would happen and they forgot about the hard work that got us there.
''We've made it really clear that we've still got a lot to do and a lot of improvement and plenty to work on.''