Lions prove their Super point

2014-07-06 15:00

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The Lions’ determination to demonstrate their capability to play Super Rugby carried them to an all-important sixth win of the season against the Melbourne Rebels at Ellis Park on Friday night.

Being pushed out of Super Rugby last year to make way for the Kings meant the Lions had to fight their way back – regaining promotion by the slimmest of margins.

But their absence from the tournament was harmful. Leading players departed to other provinces, others were loath to sign up and the Lions began this season with a cobbled-together squad containing many youngsters and players, unable to find a home elsewhere, willing to take a chance and hoping for a breakthrough.

Six victories is the best return for the landlords of Ellis Park in the southern hemisphere tournament since the Cats were disbanded and they entered the Super 14 as the Lions in 2007.

Against the Rebels on Friday, the Lions fell behind soon after half-time, but were well-marshalled by skipper Warren Whiteley and with new Springbok Marnitz Boshoff giving direction and adding the points with his slide-rule kicking. They fought back to show they are everything but a ragtag bunch.

Much credit must also go to coach Johan Ackermann.

Whiteley and Boshoff have been inspirational; red-and-white faithfuls such as Franco van der Merwe, Derick Minnie, Alwyn Hollenbach and Willie Britz continued to set an example; and newcomers such as Coenie van Wyk, Francois de Klerk, Jaco Kriel and Julian Redelinghuys grabbed the chance to show they belong in the big leagues.

Meanwhile, In Christchurch, New Zealand, yesterday, the Crusaders celebrated the return of Dan Carter, who took to the field in the number?12 jersey. They beat the Blues 21-13 to go to the top of the New Zealand conference, throwing down the gauntlet to the Highlanders ahead of their crucial game today against the frontrunning Waratahs.

Round 18 results

Chiefs 24, Hurricanes 16; Lions 34, Rebels 17; Crusaders 21, Blues 13; Force 30, Reds 20

»The following matches were still to be played at the time of going to print: Stormers vs Bulls, Cheetahs vs Sharks, Waratahs vs Highlanders

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