Lions fightback stuns Rebels
Jantjies conversion clinches the points following Kriel's try
Last Updated: 07/07/12 8:48pm
The Lions gave themselves hope of avoiding the Super 15 wooden spoon with a late 37-32 win over the Melbourne Rebels in Johannesburg.
Johan Ackermann's cellar dwellers had relinquished a 24-0 lead but snatched the victory when Elton Jantjies landed a touchline conversion after replacement Jaco Kriel's 74th-minute try had drawn them level, before he added a late penalty.
The bonus-point success, just the Lions' third of a barren season, moved them two points behind second-bottom Western Force ahead of next weekend's final round.
The South African side had looked on course for a far more comfortable afternoon when a first-half Derick Minnie double fired them into a 24-0 lead.
The 25-year-old flanker set up the Lions' first try after two minutes when he busted a tackle to set up a break that Waylon Murray finished off following an inside pass from Lionel Mapoe.
Minnie went over himself following an overlap on 10 minutes and, after Jantjies kicked a penalty, his converted second on 35 minutes opened a 24-0 advantage.
The Rebels, without star backs Kurtley Beale and James O'Connor through injury, showed signs of life just before half-time when hooker Ged Robinson dived over before Julian Huxley converted.
The Australian side then came out after the break a completely different unit with lock Hugh Pyle going over twice in five minutes after the break.
Huxley was only able to add the extras on one occasion to make it 24-19 but the former Australia full-back was on target with a 59th-minute penalty to narrow the gap to two points.
Jantjies responded with a penalty of his own, to end an unanswered run of 22 points from the Rebels, but he was responsible for gifting the visitors the lead when his attempted clearance was charged down by James Hilgendorf.
The TMO was needed to confirm Hilgendorf's 64th-minute score, which Huxley duly converted to give the Rebels the lead for the first time.
They then added clear water when Huxley saw a long penalty attempt go in off the posts to make it 32-27.
With the Lions seemingly doomed to last place Kriel drew them level with a blindside run near the touchline and, faced with a difficult kick, Jantjies made no mistake to grab back the lead.
The fly-half then sealed victory with an 80th-minute penalty to finish with a personal haul of 19 points.