Super Rugby

Lombard kicks Lions to victory, stunning Rebels




The Lions ambushed the Melbourne Rebels 36-33, staging a thrilling comeback at Ellis Park, Johannesburg.

Gianni Lombard, brought on late for Elton Jantjies, kicked a last-gasp winning penalty in added time to give the Lions an unlikely victory over the Rebels.

The Rebels threw away a commanding 28-point lead, in search of a first win against the Lions as they imploded in the City of Gold.

Billy Meakes’ 47th-minute yellow card, after multiple cynical infringements by the visitors, changed the game. Dave Wessels’ side was in complete control but wilted in the Highveld heat.

Wessels’ side conceded 20 penalties to one in one of the most ill-disciplined displays in recent times. Angus Cottrell was sin-binned after another series of infractions, giving the hosts a chance of three points.

Lions’ stand-in skipper, Malcolm Marx decided on a lineout which led to a knock on and a lost opportunity.

Video Highlights: Lions versus Melbourne Rebels

But fortune favours the brave. A massive scrum from the South Africans earned them a penalty and offered the 21-year-old flyhalf a chance to write his name in Lions Super Rugby folklore.

The Lions struck first through Marx and some trickery at the front of an attacking lineout.

Swys de Bruin’s team, however, proceded to concede five tries and 33 unanswered points before launching a second-half fightback with four more tries of their own before Lombardi’s heroics.

This was the ultimate game of two halves

Some sneaky forward play by the Marx and Dylan Smith set the tone for this crazy match. Super Rugby at it’s craziest, unpredictable best.

The home support could be forgiven for thinking this would be a cake-walk against a franchise they had never lost. How wrong they were.

Reece Hodge levelled within minutes after a slick one-two between the evergreen Will Genia and Quade Cooper.

Cooper, who has risen like a Phoenix out of the Ashes this year led the charge, doubling the lead soon after. It started from a counter-attack deep in their half from the magnificent Anaru Rangi.

The hooker was a powerhouse in the tight phases and caused problems for the opposition’s set-piece as the Lions lost a scrum and two lineouts before the break.

The tourists turned the ball over, and Rangi charged away down the sideline. Cooper linked with Tom English and Meakes before dotting down.

The Lions’ set-pieces were creaking as well as their maul, which was non-existent. Dane Haylett-Petty went close but lost the before near the goal-line.

Meakes intercepted Jantjies’ – bush – telegraphed pass and strolled in under the posts, on 20 minutes.

The Lions struggled with Melbourne’s kicking game; they were terrible with the restarts and exit strategy, too, which kept them hemmed in their half.

Isi Naisarani crossed after some good work by the tight-five and Luke Jones’ carry and offload, scoring after a TMO review against the post.

The Aussies started winning the opposition’s lineouts as well, despite the Lions having the upper hand in territory and possession. It was a sign of things to come.

The Rebels went close but lost the ball near the line yet again after some wonderful counter-attacking from midfield.

Second half fightback

Another try straight after halftime should have killed the Lions. Instead, they continued from where they left off at the break. Slowly getting more ball and playing in opposition territory.

English scored his side’s fifth try from the first-phase ball, soon after the restart. Give the Lions’ credit; they did not crumble; they took control of the ball and mounted some deep counters of their own.

The penalty count had been eight to one in favour of the hosts at the interval. Penalties continued to mount, the Australians trying anything and everything to halt the Lions’ momentum.

Referee Egon Seconds – who had a poor game, failing to police the multiple fouls and infringements committed by Melbourne – warned Dane Haylett-Petty after two penalty-advantages before going to his pocket.

Meakes was off, starting a sequence of six minutes of madness. You could sense a shift in the game towards the home team. Marnus Schoeman barged over after a big carry before Andries Coetzee, only subbed on for two minutes, crossed.

All the Lions’ good work was coming through Marx – who was starting to dominate the breakdown – Kwagga Smith and Tyrone Green. The fullback was immense, dazzling the opposition with pace and fancy footwork.

Another Lions counter-attack from their 22 brought the hosts to within two scores. Marx, Kwagga Smith and Courtnall Skosan all combined before the ball was hacked forward by Green.

Lionel Mapoe chased a lost cause, beating a dozy Cooper to dot down in the corner of the in-goal area.

The stand-off was snoozing and didn’t hear Mapoe charging in from behind. The crowd was going crazy as Mapoe’s score finished off the Istanbul-like comeback.

Thrilling denouement

Wessels’ charges were wilting; the hands were on hips and heads,  bent over players gasped for the thin Joburg air. This is what can happen against the last three season’s runners-up.

The Rebels have only had 15% possession and territory in the second half; the tackles, both missed and made were mounting.

Marx, the ‘Beast of the Breakdown’, ‘King of the ruck’, won another the turnover, Kwagga Smith, again, broke down the left wing before sending Skosan away to scenes in the stands.

Jantjies levelled with the conversion from in front. Another Coetzee attack ended, this time with Sithembiso Sithole, with acres of space in front of him, dropped a simple pass.

Marika Koroibete thought he had scored, but Cooper was adjudged to have knocked on before popping to the winger.

It was the only scare for the Lions because they had all the ball and pinned the Rebels inside their 22 for the final 10 minutes.

Mr Seconds, finally, went to his pocket for the second time, which was probably twice too few, especially because the Aussies were committing every possible infringement known to man.

Cotrell was the chosen one, sent to the naughty step. But instead of taking the points, Marx and his lieutenants kept deciding for lineouts, or scrums; anything but taking the points, which can infuriate.

Wandisile Simelane knocked on before the hooter sounded. Genia, using his experience, slowed play down, taking his time to get his forwards ready.

The Rebels front row buckled at the death Lombard, and with the weight of the franchise on his shoulders, the hopes of the fans, Lombard slotted the kick.

Cue bedlam.

Final Score: Lions 36 (5) Rebels 33 (26)


Tries – Marx, Schoeman, Coetzee, Mapoe, Skosan
Pen – Lombard
Con – Jantjies (4)
Drop –
Cards –

Tries – Hodge, Cooper, Meakes, Naisarani, English
Pen –
Con – Cooper (4)
Drop –
Cards – Meakes (Yellow, 47′), Cottrell (Yellow, 77′)

Match Officials
Referee: Egon Seconds
Assistant Ref 1: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Ref 2: Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Willie Vos


Lions: 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Franco Naude, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Albertus Smith, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Marvin Orie, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Malcolm Marx (captain), 1 Dylan Smith.

Replacements: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Sithembiso Sithole, 18 Frans van Wyk, 19 Rhyno Herbst, 20 Ruan Vermaak, 21 Gianni Lombard, 22 Lionel Mapoe, 23 Andries Coetzee.

Rebels: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty (captain), 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Tom English, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Brad Wilkin, 6 Luke Jones, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Tetera Faulkner.

Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Angus Cottrell, 21 Michael Ruru, 22 Sione Tuipulotu, 23 Marika Koroibete.

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  1. Pingback: Genia returns for Rebels to face Reds - Super Rugby | Super 15 Rugby and Rugby Championship News,Results and Fixtures from Super XV Rugby

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