Lions roar past Rebels

The Lions put in a strong second-half performance to beat the Rebels 34-17 at Ellis Park. BRENTON CHELIN reports.

After a tepid first half, in which both teams showed just why they find themselves towards the bottom of the table, the Lions found their feet to claim a comfortable enough victory in the end. Both teams exhibited plenty of attacking intent throughout the match, but were woefully short on execution.

The Lions got off to a flyer, opening the scoring through an Anthony Volminck try as early as the second minute. Marnitz Boshoff added a penalty before the Rebels found their way into the game. They hit back with a try of their own and it came thanks to some quick thinking from Luke Burgess. His quick tap saw the Rebels break from their own 22m line and the ball was eventually worked left to Tom English who raced up the touchline to score.

The Rebels were looking to keep the ball alive, away from the Lions physical forward pack and were throwing it around with reckless abandon. Jack Debreczeni then missed a penalty from bang in front before Boshoff showed the young fullback how it's done with a penalty of his own, as the Lions led 14-10 at the break.

Things would improve in the second half, and the Rebels would hit the front thanks to a try by Colby Fainga'a from a rolling maul. Unfortunately for the visitors, that was about as good as things would get. The Lions reclaimed the lead through Warrick Tecklenburg before Marnitz Boshoff added a couple of penalties. Captain Warren Whiteley would end things on a high with a try of his own, while his opposite number Scott Higginbotham finished the game in the sin bin, as the Rebels let their frustrations get the better of them.

For the Lions it was their sixth win of the season, which for coach Johan Ackermann should represent a welcome return to Super Rugby. The Rebels travel to Loftus next weekend still without an overseas win, and on this showing that won't change against the Bulls in Pretoria.

Lions – Tries: Anthony Volminck, Warrick Tecklenburg, Warren Whiteley. Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (2). Penalties: Boshoff (5).
Rebels – Tries: Tom English, Colby Fainga'a. Conversions: Jack Debreczeni (2). Penalty: Debreczeni.

Lions – 15 Coenie van Wyk, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Franco Mostert, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Subs: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Willie Britz, 20 Derick Minnie, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Lionel Mapoe.

Rebels – 15 Jack Debreczeni, 14 Tom Kingston, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Colby Fainga'a, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Shota Horie,1 Toby Smith.
Subs: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Jordy Reid, 21 Nic Stirzaker, 22 Jason Woodward, 23 Telusa Veainu.

Marnitz Boshoff had another good day with the boot, but Warrick Tecklenburg shone for the Lions. He made a team high of 15 tackles and completed three turnovers in another all-action showing from the flanker. He capped it off with a try of his own and he thoroughly deserves the Leatherman Player of the Match.

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Photo: Anne Laing/HSM Images