Super Rugby
Lions shock Rebels with final-minute try
ESPN Staff
March 20, 2015
Mitch Inman of the Rebels scores a try, Rebels v Lions, Super Rugby, AAMI Park, Melbourne, March 20, 2015
Mitch Inman crashes over for the Rebels' opening try
© Getty Images

Melbourne Rebels have blown a chance to claim rare consecutive Super Rugby victories, conceding a late try to hand the Lions victory at AAMI Park. Following their win over Western Force, the Rebels looked like banking their first back-to-back wins since 2013 before a defensive lapse allowed Lions centre Lionel Mapoe to cross for the match-winner.

That gave the South African visitors an 18-16 lead, with Elton Jantjies converting for the final scoreline.

The Rebels were the better side for the bulk of the match, and they took a 13-3 lead into half-time. Melbourne started with a flourish, completely dominating the first half in terms of territory and possession, and they should have been further ahead. Their 10-point lead came through tries by centre Mitch Inman and teenage Rebels debutant fullback Jonah Placid while the Lions were a man down with lock Franco Mostert yellow-carded in the fourth minute for a deliberate foul when he came from off-side to knock the ball out of the hands of Rebels halfback Nic Stirzaker. Inman used his brute strength to barrel across the line following a line-out while 19-year-old Placid ran on to a long Lopeti Timani ball which caught the Lions' defence short out wide.

Rebels 16-20 Lions (Australia only)

The Lions drew first blood in the second half with five-eighth Marnitz Boshoff scoring after just four minutes. Jantjies added the extras and then tied up the match at 13-13 with a 61st-minute penalty.

Rebels No.10 Mike Harris regained the lead for his team with a penalty, but, playing his 50th Super match, he was unusually off-target, missing three kicks that he normally would nailed.

Melbourne coach Tony McGahan said he was "shocked" by his team's late capitulation. It followed a similar pattern that they displayed against the Force game but they were able to hold on for the win.

"I'm still coming to grips with it," he said. "To be in a game and to be in it with a lot of control, and then to have it taken away from us at the end. You've got to play for 80 minutes and the Lions stuck in and hung in for 80 minutes."

The Rebels had a try in each half disallowed - one due to an Stirzaker knock-on in the lead-up while Harris failed to clearly ground the ball in the second half.

"They prevented tries just from sheer desperation," McGahan said of the Lions' defence. "We would have liked to have been more up at half-time but we weren't. We've got to continue to learn these very, very harsh lessons unfortunately."

The Lions overcame a slow start to steal the victory © Getty Images
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