Competitive Rebels aim to take game to Lions in Johannesburg
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Competitive Rebels aim to take game to Lions in Johannesburg

Melbourne Rebels know they have the talent to beat the best sides in Super Rugby, therefore Sunday morning's clash with the Lions in Johannesburg will show if they are ready to do so.

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The Lions (2-2 win-loss) have become one of the competition's most difficult sides in recent seasons playing a relentless style of running rugby in attack and wearing teams down with their strong defence.

But the Lions have made a slow start this season losing two games to South Africa rivals early and only just beating the Argentina Jaguares in Johannesburg last week in a 47-39 try fest.

The Rebels (3-0) have drawn games in South Africa but never come away with a win, but this season the team is fitter, more experienced and vastly deeper so the challenge on Sunday will be to use those improvements to overcome the home side.

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Rebels veteran prop Tetera Faulkner joined Luke Jones, Ross Haylett-Petty and Anaru Rangi in coming back into the starting forward pack for Sunday's game and he believes that man-for-man his side can match it with the Lions or anyone else.

Faulkner said that will start with competing harder and building from there.

"You want to beat your opposition player in whatever he's doing, even in a kick and chase, you want to run past him," Faulkner said.

"If you're doing your job, you're helping the team, there's no reason why we can't get the win. So working that little bit harder than your opposition is what we're going to come in with."

That hard work will have to be accompanied by strict discipline as the Lions have star five-eighth Elton Jantjies in their side who can kick penalties from 60-metres out and rarely misses.

While much is made of the Lions ability to attack from the wings, Jantjies constant flow of penalty goals is just as important.

Faulkner added his forward pack knows they still have to be physical in the scrums, lineouts and breakdowns against the likes of Malcolm Marx and Kwagga Smith, they just can't be giving away penalties in the process.

"We've talked about their stars and physical battles up front," Faulkner said.

"The thing that works for us is our work capacity and probably our height. At scrum time, we're looking to get a bit lower than them and work at our height rather than their height, otherwise they'll do the damage up front.

Dangerman: Lions Five-eight Elton Jantjies.

Dangerman: Lions Five-eight Elton Jantjies.Credit:PA

"With Malcolm Marx being as big as he is and the guys next to him, our height is probably our advantage – having to work a little bit harder and a little bit lower."

If the Rebels can hold their own in the physical battles, they may well be able to get good ball to Will Genia and Quade Cooper and let them create some scoring chances, while Reece Hodge's promotion back to the starting side gives them another kicking option and some running power on the wing.

In last week's win over the ACT Brumbies, the Rebels kept several key forwards on the bench until the second half, this week they have Matt Philip, Angus Cottrell and star winger Marika Koroibete in those roles, perhaps they could make an impact when introduced after half-time.

The Rebels believe in their talents and they know now is the time to turn belief into action.

Melbourne Rebels take on the Lions in Johannesburg on Sunday at 12.05am.

Roy Ward is a Sports writer for The Age.

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