The Lions recorded seven tries as they secured a 47-10 bonus-point win over the Rebels in Melbourne on Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
This was just the sort of result the Lions would have been looking for as they produced an ambitious and effective all-round performance to claim a ninth win of the season.
While the Lions’ backs dazzled out wide, a lot of good work was also completed by the big men up front, who established ascendancy at the set pieces and enjoyed good reward through the driving maul.
During the early exchanges of this encounter, the Lions were briefly haunted by the problems they encountered against the Force last weekend, with the Johannesburg-based side failing to add the finishing touches to a host of attacking opportunities.
Although some of the visitors’ handling let them down, the Rebels also deserved credit for an abrasive defence that repeatedly forced the Lions’ ball runners back behind the gainline.
However, with the Lions dominating possession and territory, there was a sense that something eventually had to give, and so it proved as Kwagga Smith and Ross Cronjé finished off well-worked tries just after the quarter-hour mark.
The Rebels did impressively hit back almost straight away when Tom English dotted down, but decisively, the Lions would have the final say of the half as Courtnall Skosan ran a beautiful line to score an important try right before the break.
On the balance of play, the Lions probably deserved more than their 12-point half-time lead, with the stats showing that they had made 356m to 138, while beating nine defenders to four and completing 110 passes to 51. In addition, the Lions had enjoyed as much as 66% possession as they forced the Rebels to make more than double the number of tackles.
As it is, the Lions extended their advantage when Sylvian Mahuza produced a sheer moment of solo magic as he darted over 60m and left a host of defenders trailing in his wake to score one of the tries of the season.
It then went from bad to worse for the Rebels as replacement Culum Retallick was shown a yellow card for collapsing a tryline-bound Lions driving maul, which also resulted in a penalty try.
At 33-10 up on the hour-mark, the game was as good as won for the Lions, and from there Anthony Volmink and Warren Whiteley scored a couple more tries to complete a comfortable victory.
Rebels – Try: Tom English. Conversion: Reece Hodge. Penalty: Hodge.
Lions – Tries: Kwagga Smith, Ross Cronjé, Courtnall Skosan, Sylvian Mahuza, penalty try, Anthony Volmink, Warren Whiteley. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (6).
Rebels – 15 Reece Hodge, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Tom English, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga'a (c), 6 Hugh Sinclair, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Steve Cummins, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 James Hanson, 1 Toby Smith.
Subs: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Fereti Sa'aga, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Culum Retallick, 20 Will Miller, 21 Harrison Goddard, 22 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 23 Jack Maddocks.
Lions – 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Lourens Erasmus, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Subs: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Ruan Ackermann, 20 Robert Kruger, 21 Dillon Smit, 22 Jacques Nel, 23 Anthony Volmink.
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