The Rebels recorded their first-ever win over the Lions in their Round Six outing in Melbourne on Saturday.
The margin of the five-tries-to-two (37-17) triumph flatters the rag-tag Lions, who is a pale shadow of the team that not so long ago played in three consecutive finals.
The visitors had the appearance of a clueless and uncoached team.
In fact, the term ‘team’ is a misnomer – as they produced an error-riddled performance by a bunch of naive and selfish individuals.
They are also not getting much value out of high-profile and costly signings like Daniel Kriel, Willem Alberts and Jannie du Plessis.
However, this should not detract from the gutsy showing by a Rebels team that is desperate to get into the play-offs for the first time.
The difference between the two teams could be clearly seen on defence – where attitude and desire made the Rebels the superior side.
The Lions made barely 75 percent of their tackles – missing a shocking 24.
In contrast the Rebels – although not flawless – looked eager on both attack and defence.
The win comes off the back of their maiden win over the Highlanders in Dunedin last week.
They did it with only 14 men for 20 minutes – with Test wing Marika Koroibete yellow-carded for a high-tackle and centre Tom English for a professional foul.
Wing Andrew Kellaway continued his resurgent form with a try-double – his sixth and seventh for the season.
Kellaway opened with a 50-metre effort and then a break by the 24-year-old set up Melbourne’s second try, with flank Richard Hardwick crossing between the uprights.
The Lions kept in touch when with scrumhalf Andre Warner finding wing Jamba Ulengo off the back of a five-metre line-out.
A 40th-minute penalty by Elton Jantjies, after English knocked Andre Warner off the ball at the back of the ruck, closed the gap to 15-10 at the break.
Despite being down a man the Rebels started the second half with a bang, with forwards in Matt Philip and Angus Cottrell combining to put Wallabies back row forward Isi Naisarani over the line.
Replacement Ross Haylett-Petty then scored when he took the ball out of brother Dane Haylett-Petty as a pile of bodies went over the line.
Scrumhalf Ryan Louwrens wrong-footed the defence to put daylight between the teams.
Reserve prop Sithembiso Sithole crossed for a late consolation score by the Lions, before Kellaway dived across in the corner for his second to secure an important bonus point.
Man of the match: Hard-working Lions forwards Ruben Schoeman and Marnus Schoeman can’t be faulted for their efforts. Rebels back like Dane Haylett-Petty, Andrew Kellaway and Marika Koroibete had a field day with the quality of possession they received. Our reward goes to Rebels No.8 Isi Naisarani – who made more than 50 metres with his powerful runs, beating three defenders and had one clean break. Add in some big hits and a try for a great day at the office.
For the Rebels:
Tries: Kellaway 2, Hardwick, Naisarani, R Haylett-Petty
Cons: Toomua 3
Pens: Toomua 2
For the Lions:
Tries: Ulengo, Sithole
Cons: Jantjies 2
Yellow cards: Marika Koroibete (Rebels, 26 – foul play, high tackle), Tom English (Rebels, 39 – cynical foul, cleaning out the scrumhalf)
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty (captain), 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Tom English, 12
Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Ryan Louwrens, 8
Isi Naisarani, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Matt Philip, 4
Gideon Koegelenberg, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Matt Gibbon.
Replacements: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Cameron Orr, 18 Cabous Eloff, 19 Ross Haylett-Petty, 20 Rob Leota, 21 Frank Lomani, 22 Michael Wells, 23 Andrew Deegan.
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14
Tyrone Green, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Daniel Kriel, 11 Jamba Ulengo,
10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 Andre Warner, 8 Len Massyn, 7 Willem
Alberts, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Carlu
Sadie, 2 Pieter Jansen, 1 Dylan Smith.
Replacements: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Sithembiso Sithole, 18 Jannie du Plessis, 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 Hacjivah Dayimani, 21 Morné van den Berg, 22 Shaun Reynolds, 23 Courtnall Skosan.
Referee: James Doleman (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Federico Anselmi (Argentina), James Quinn (Australia)
TMO: James Leckie (Australia)