Rugby: Lions tame Rebels in Johannesburg

Alwyn Hollenbach of the Lions, centre, is tackled during the Super Rugby match between Lions and Melbourne Rebels at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. Photo / Getty Images
Alwyn Hollenbach of the Lions, centre, is tackled during the Super Rugby match between Lions and Melbourne Rebels at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. Photo / Getty Images

The Melbourne Rebels squandered a second-half lead to fall 34-17 in their Super Rugby clash against the Lions in South Africa on Saturday morning.

The Rebels' fourth straight loss puts them in prime wooden spoon territory ahead of next weekend's last-round clash against the Bulls.

The Rebels were leading 17-14 with 25 minutes to play before the high altitude conditions at Johannesburg's Ellis Park Stadium took their toll, and they went down three tries to two.

The visitors had their chances, however, with captain Scott Higginbotham twice bundled into touch while reaching out to score.

His night only got worse in the 70th minute when he was given a yellow card for a tip tackle on Willie Britz.

The Lions were extremely successful at pressuring the Rebels at the breakdown and stalling their momentum.

Young Rebels fullback Jack Debreczeni started nervously in his second game taking over from Jason Woodward, making a couple of mistakes and missing an absolute sitter of a penalty goal from almost directly in front.

Lions sharpshooter Marnitz Boshoff, on the other hand, starred for the home side, kicking seven goals for a haul of 19 points and throwing a long cut-out pass for a second-minute try to winger Anthony Volmink.

A quick tap from Rebels halfback Luke Burgess finally sparked the visitors into action in the 22nd minute, Tom English crossing to narrow the gap to 8-7.

Traded penalties had the Lions edging out for a 14-10 halftime lead.

The Rebels hit the front in the 52nd minute when flanker Colby Fainga'a scored from the back of a maul.

English then thought he had crossed for a double when he dived over a ruck, only to realise he'd placed the ball over the five metre line, not the try line.

That hurt the Rebels, their stalled momentum resulting in the Lions going the length of the field for a 57th minute try to Warwick Tecklenburg and a three-point lead.

Boshoff then knocked over another two penalties to extend the Lions' lead to ten before captain Warren Whitely put the result beyond doubt with a 71st minute try.

- AAP

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