Coming into Saturday’s game at Ellis Park, the Rebels had never beaten the Lions, and thanks to some truly horrific indiscipline – and despite a giant halftime lead – it remains that way.
The Rebels were up 33-5 in Johannesburg and making mincemeat of a Lions defence that seemed not to have got an invite to the game. The Highveld side made far too many mistakes in the first half, and as such saw their defensive line broken four times in that opening stanza. Two tries came directly from the set piece, and two via the outside defender biting in given the lack of faith in what was happening on the inside.
The home side’s lineout had also gone AWOL, gifting the much improved Melbourne side – now coached by ex UCT defense coach, Dave Wessels – an opportunity to make history.
But 17 penalties and two yellow cards, which could well have been doubled had referee Egon Seconds not been so accommodating of the indiscipline that bordered on intentional spoiling, allowed the home side to buck the “kick and defend” trend.
The Lions eventually settled the encounter in their favour via a post-siren penalty from bench flyhalf Gianni Lombard. The thrilling comeback-win came via a ‘backs to the wall’ dominance of all the attacking stats, and both the territory and possession. The home side ran more, kicked less, and as such tackled a whole lot less than the visitors.
Given that the men in blue also conceded 16 turnovers to the 8 from the Lions, coach Swys de Bruin should probably be viewing this as his use of a “Get out of jail free” card, rather than a recipe for future success.
A look at the match stats from Ellis Park:
Points: BUL 36-33 REB
Tries: LIO 5-5 REB
Penalty goals: LIO 1-0 REB
Goal kicking %: LIO 83% – 80% REB
Possession: LIO 63% – 37% REB
Territory: LIO 57% – 43% REB
Ball in play: 31 minutes
Ball Carries: LIO 85-51 REB
Metres run: LIO 611-470 REB
Metres per carry: LIO 7.2-9.2 REB
Line breaks: LIO 5-2 REB
Tackle breaks: LIO 8-2 REB
Passes: LIO 170-63 REB
Good Passes: LIO 159-57 REB
Offloads: LIO 7-3 REB
Rucks won: LIO 102-34 REB
Mauls won: LIO 6-1 REB
Turnovers conceded: LIO 16-8 REB
Tackles made: LIO 68-142 REB
Tackles missed: LIO 9-8 REB
Tackle success: LIO 88% – 95% REB
Tackle turnover: LIO 0-1 REB
Turnovers won: LIO 2-4 REB
Kicks from hand: LIO 9-13 REB
Metres kicked: LIO 233-347 REB
Metres per kick: LIO 26-27 REB
Handling errors: LIO 13-11 REB
Error rate (per carry): LIO 6.5-4.6 REB
Penalties conceded: LIO 1-20 REB (4 offside, 4 scrum)
Yellow cards: LIO 0-2 REB
First phase stats:
Lineouts won: LIO 12-1 REB
Lineouts stolen: STAT MISSING, but Lions lost at least 4
Scrums won: LIO 9-10 REB
Scrums lost: LIO 0-0 REB