The Lions survived a monumental second-half implosion to recover and snatch a 37-32 win over the Rebels in Jo'burg on Saturday.
The Lions survived a monumental second-half implosion to recover and snatch a 37-32 Super Rugby win over the Rebels in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The Lions led 24-0 in the closing stages of the first half yet found themselves trailing by five points with seven minutes left on the clock.
But a late try from replacement Jaco Kriel saved the hosts' blushes and secured just their third win of the season.
The result also means the Lions could still avoid finishing last in the overall standings as they now trail the Western Force by only two points.
The Lions were 24-7 ahead at half time thanks to an early try from Waylon Murray and a brace from Derick Minnie but the Rebels came roaring back via tries from Ged Robinson, James Hilgendorf and two from Hugh Pyle.
Kriel's 74th-minute winner denied the Australian side a memorable win however while Elton Jantjies added 20 points with the boot.
The Lions finish their season with a local derby against Bulls in Pretoria next weekend while the Rebels must head to Cape Town to face the Stormers.
The home side raced to a 17-0 lead by the end of first quarter. It took less than two minutes for centre Murray to bag the opening score when he burst clear thanks to a break and offload from Lionel Mapoe.
Minnie added a second try on the ten-minute mark when he crashed over from short range. Jantjies converted both tries and added a penalty as the Lions cruised into a healthy lead.
The visitors had hardly threatened to get on the scoreboard and looked down and out after Minnie broke off a maul to charge over for his second try with the interval looming. Jantjies added the extras to stretch the lead to 24 unanswered points.
The Rebels had the final say of the first period though as Robinson touched down in the middle of a rolling maul on the stroke of half time. Julian Huxley's conversion cut the gap to 14 points as the teams headed for the changing rooms.
The wheels came off the Lions' bus in the second period and their lead vanished after Pyle scored twice in the space of three minutes.
Hilgendorf charged down Jantjies in the 64th minute and the TMO reckoned he grounded the ball correctly, to the disgust of the home ground. Huxley's conversion, incredibly, gave the Rebels the lead which the full-back extended a few minutes later with a penalty.
With time running out, Kriel bolted down the blindside touchline to score and make matters all square.
Jantjies landed the touchline conversion and an 80th-minute penalty to save the day for the home side.
Tries: Murray, Minnie 2, Kriel
Cons: Jantjies 4
Pens: Jantjies 3
Tries: Robinson, Pyle 2, Hilgendorf
Cons: Huxley 3
Pens: Huxley 2
Lions: 15 James Kamana, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Butch James, 11 Anthonie Volminck, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Joshua Strauss (c), 7 Grant Hattingh, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Etienne Oosthuizen, 19 Jaco Kriel, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 JR Esterhuizen, 22 Ruan Combrinck.
Rebels: 15 Julian Huxley, 14 Mark Gerrard, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Stirling Mortlock (c), 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 James Hilgendorf, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Tim Davidson, 7 Hugh Perrett, 6 Luke Jones, 5 Hugh Pyle, 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Jono Owen, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson.
Replacements: 16 Adam Freier, 17 Paul Alo-Emile, 18 Al Campbell, 19 Gareth Delve, 20 Richard Kingi, 21 Lachlan Mitchell, 22 Lloyd Johannson.
Referee: Francisco Pastrana (Argentina)
TMO:Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)