The final action in Round 5 of Super Rugby comes from Johannesburg on Saturday where the Lions host a Melbourne Rebels side who are unbeaten so far.
Lions v Rebels, Saturday 16th March, Johannesburg, KO 15:05 (South African time)
Referee: Egon Seconds
Assistant Refs: Jaco Peyper, Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Willie Vos
Weather Forecast – Johannesburg
The Lions have an overall record of 2 wins and 2 defeats. Both victories came against Jaguares, 25-16 in Buenos Aires in Round 1 and last week they beat the Argentine side 47-39 in Johannesburg, a game of 13 tries with the Lions crossing 7 times. The 2 defeats both came in SA derby matches, 19-17 away to the Stormers in Round 2 and 30-12 at home to the Bulls a week later.
The Lions have won all 4 of their previous matches against the Rebels and since 2014 the only Australian side to win at Ellis Park was the Brumbies in 2015.
The Lions finished Round 4 fourth best in the South African Conference although only 5 points separated top from bottom.
The Rebels arrive with a 100% record after 3 narrow victories. Last week they beat the Brumbies for the second time this season after a sterling second half fightback which saw them come out on top 29-26 in Melbourne. In earlier results the Rebels edged out a visiting Highlanders side who were missing some big guns 24-19 and in Round 1 they beat the Brumbies 34-27 in Canberra, their only away fixture so far.
The Rebels finished Round 4 as top side in the Australian Conference, 3 points clear of the Waratahs.
The Rebels have an awful record in South Africa. In 15 matches on SA soil they have lost 14 and a 9-9 draw with the Sharks in Durban in 2017 is the nearest they have been to victory.
Lions: 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Franco Naude, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Kwagga Smith, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Marvin Orie, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Malcolm Marx (captain), 1 Dylan Smith.
Substitutes: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Frans van Wyk, 19 Rhyno Herbst, 20 Ruan Vermaak, 21 Gianni Lombard, 22 Lionel Mapoe, 23 Andries Coetzee
Rebels: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty (captain), 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Tom English, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Brad Wilkin, 6 Luke Jones, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Tetera Faulkner
Substitutes: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Angus Cottrell, 21 Michael Ruru, 22 Sione Tuipulotu, 23 Marika Koroibete
Recent Head to Head (any venue)
2017 Melbourne Rebels 10-47 Lions (Tries 1-7 )
2015 Melbourne Rebels 16-20 Lions (Tries 2-2 )
2014 Johannesburg Lions 34–17 Rebels (Tries 3-2 )
2012 Johannesburg Lions 37–32 Rebels (Tries 4-4 )
Note, odds quoted are correct at the time of the last update but are subject to change.
Although the Lions have been hit and miss this season this still looks like a big test for the Rebels who’s record in South Africa is appalling. They do arrive in high spirits though and there was plenty to like about the way they came back against the Brumbies in the second half last week.
I’ll take my chances that the Rebels can stay within this handicap.
Bet: Rebels +7.5 points at 19/20
(Unit Scale 1 to 5)
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