Rebels coach Hill : ‘I couldn’t be more pleased’

Rebels coach Damien Hill has praised his team after watching captain Scott Higginbotham hoist the Wearly Dunlop Shield for the first time in six attemptes.

The Rebels held on to beat the Waratahs 24-22 to earn their first back to back victories of the year.

A brace of tries from wing Tom English coupled with four penalties and a conversion from fullback Jason Woodward proved to be enough to beat the Waratahs.

Rebels’ Head Coach Damien Hill said after the match that he was delighted with the result, especially as he felt that his side hadn’t played as well as they did against the Stormers last weekend.

“We weren’t as clinical as we could have been in a lot of areas, which is a positive in that while we won there are a lot of areas where we need to tidy up for next week,” Hill said.

“There was great leadership today from Scott, and bench really added something when they came on – it was a real 22 man effort.

“The pleasing thing for me in particular was the grit that the team showed as a 22. There were some tremendous efforts in defence, and in attack. “

“The way that they supported each other, and their work at the breakdown, was great. We had more urgency than the opposition, and I think that was the difference in the end.”

The Waratahs had won their past three matches, and were aiming to make a late play for the finals after having ten players named in Robbie Deans’ 25-man preliminary Wallaby squad ahead of the British & Irish Lions Tour, but Hill said he and his young troops were not fazed by that.

“As soon as you start focusing on individuals in a team too much, and take away the focus from all fifteen of their players, you’re in for a long night. “

“We didn’t actually speak about it, and as far as I am concerned we had ten Wallabies out there tonight the way our guys performed. “

“I think the Waratahs are a very good team, and they play some great attacking football, but what we did well tonight was nullify some of their attacking threats and in many areas out-enthuse them.”

Hill is confident that his side have improved in leaps and bounds since this time last season, and that they are on the right track.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with the way that the young guys have taken their opportunities; what it does is give the team confidence in the whole squad, and I think that’s a real positive. “

“The team has definitely evolved and grown, and it’s been a significant step forward this year. We had 43% changeover in the squad (in the off-season), and we are at a good stage in this club’s development.”

Captain Higginbotham, after putting in another herculean shift at Number 8, admits he can see similarities with the young Reds squad he developed within on the way to the 2011 Super 15 title.

“There’s a lot of first year Super Rugby players, and they are clearly showing that they have the talent, skill and motivation to play at this level and do well at this level,” Higginbotham said.

“We have so much faith in our young guys like Bryce, Stirzy and Tommy English coming through; it’s fantastic to see young blokes like that doing so well in their first season of Super Rugby.”

“I think now, teams are starting to see us differently. In the last couple of performances, we are definitely proving that we are an 80 minute team.”

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