To’omua: Rebels must play clever, reduce turnovers to beat Highlanders

Melbourne Rebels star Matt To'omua says his side must play "clever" and avoid errors as they attempt to beat the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday night.

The Rebels have had a tough start to the Super Rugby season, falling to 1-3 while, the Highlanders have also struggled at 1-2.

The Rebels had their chances to beat the Durban Sharks in Ballarat last round but were unable to take control of the key moments as the Sharks found ways to earn penalties or take their openings and score at crucial times.

Rebels star Matt To’omua is returning to the starting line-up against the Highlanders after overcoming a groin injury.Credit:AAP

To'omua returns to the starting side at five-eighth on Friday after missing last week with a groin problem, while Wallabies hooker Jordan Uelese will play off the bench in his first appearance this season

The Highlanders play under a roof at Forsyth Barr Stadium so To'omua said his side had to win the big moments and couldn't concede errors or turnovers.

"There were these key little moments where, whether it was physical or mental, they cost us the game against the Sharks," To'omua said.

"We ultimately weren't good enough. Adding a little detail to what we do will make a difference."

To'omua said he looks forward to playing alongside halfback Ryan Louwrens again after the pair led the Rebels to a win over the NSW Waratahs two rounds ago, although a repeat of their success will come down to how well their team retains possession.

The Rebels will again have no outside backs on their bench due to injuries, with reserve playmakers Frank Lomani and Andrew Deegan the only fit backs.

To'omua said he was concerned about the speed and width of the home side's attack, led by proven halfback Aaron Smith, and a backline that includes centre Josh Ioane and full-back Michael Collins.

"The width in their game is almost second to none," To'omua said.

"They shift the ball very well and have a lot of good attacking depth.

"They have always been lethal on counter-attacks so we have to be clever with how we hold onto the ball, and we can't give them easy possessions because we know they can sting you from unstructured play."

The Rebels play the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday at 5pm AEDT.

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