Lionel Mapoe scored a 78th-minute try to give the Lions a 20-16 win against the Rebels in Melbourne. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The result marks the Lions' first win in Melbourne, and extends their winning streak against the Rebels to three victories. It will also please coach Johan Ackermann to note that the Lions have won two from three on their current tour of Australasia.
These are the numbers that will matter to the Lions after the match in Melbourne. And yet, they won't want to forget the fact that they fought back from 13-0 down to win the game.
The Lions were on the back foot from the fourth minute of the contest. Lock Franco Mostert committed a professional foul, and was sent to the sin bin for the offence. The Rebels capitalised on the numbers advantage, and extended their lead to 13-0.
The Lions' first-half performance was poor. They made a series of errors on attack, and took some awful decisions in their own 22. If not for their much improved scrum, they may have conceded more points during that period.
As it was, they went to the break trailing 13-3. The Rebels scored two tries in the first half, with Mike Harris missing both conversion attempts. How the Rebels would come to lament Harris's kicking performance.
The Lions were notably better in the second stanza, and a break from deep in the 45th minute culminated in a try for Marnitz Boshoff. Elton Jantjies added a conversion to bring the Lions within striking distance.
The Rebels' reserve lock Steve Cummins was yellow-carded in the 60th minute, and Jantjies levelled the scores. Unfortunately for the visitors, they would concede a penalty at the other end, and Harris made no mistake. By the end of the 10-minute sanction, the Lions had failed to hurt the Rebels on the scoreboard.
Harris had a chance to extend the hosts' lead to six points in the 76th minute. Unfortunately for the Rebels, the penalty attempt drifted to the right of the posts. In total, Harris's misses had cost the Rebels seven points.
The Lions continued to play, and Mapoe latched onto a long pass in the 78th minute. Jantjies's conversion then ensured that the Rebels would need to score a try to win.
But the Lions did enough to hang on and secure a great comeback victory.
Rebels – Tries: Mitch Inman, Jonah Placid. Penalties: Mike Harris (2).
Lions – Tries: Marnitz Boshoff, Lionel Mapoe. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2). Penalties: Jantjies (2).
Rebels – 15 Jonah Placid, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Mike Harris, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Subs: 16 Tom Sexton, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Steve Cummins, 20 Colby Fainga’a, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Sefanaia Naivalu.
Lions – 15 Jaco van der Walt, 14 Sampie Mastriet, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Elton Jantjies, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Robert Kruger, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Subs: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Julian Redelinghuys, 19 Andries Ferreira, 20 Jaco Kriel, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Harold Vorster, 23 Andries Coetzee.
Photo: Quinn rooney/Getty Images