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Injured Rebels rally against Super Lions

NZN 5/05/2017 Melissa Woods

The Melbourne Rebels have as many injured players watching from the AAMI Park stands as players on the field but they still maintain they're a fighting chance for a Super Rugby upset against the Lions on Saturday afternoon.

The Rebels are missing 15 players, including skipper Nic Stirzaker (ankle), who became the latest to join the casualty list in a season to forget.

The injury toll has contributed to just one win in 2017, while Melbourne also have the axe hanging over their heads with the Australian Rugby Union saying they or the Western Force will be cut ahead of next season's revamped competition.

However, coach Tony McGahan says the players are putting on a brave face and have rebounded well from a disappointing last round loss to the Kings in Port Elizabeth.

"We were noticeably a bit down on Sunday and still a bit flat on Wednesday from the flight from South Africa and the performance but we had a really good training session on Thursday," McGahan said.

McGahan wants to see more from his senior players, who failed to mount any kind of challenge as the Kings posted 33 unanswered points in the second half.

The Rebels lost their way when halfback Mick Snowden suffered a season-ending foot injury and they had to compete for three-quarters of the match with a makeshift No.9.

Ben Meehan will take over the role with debutant Harrison Goddard on the bench.

"We were pretty disappointed with whole package," McGahan said.

"We couldn't break them down, we needed to make sure we scored early and then once Mick went off we were a bit off rabble to be honest.

"We tried hard but we couldn't dent the line and ended up running around in circles."

The Lions are the top-ranked South African team with eight wins from nine games but due to a quirk of the Super Rugby draw avoid playing any of the dominant New Zealand teams.

McGahan, however, defended their position as worthy title contenders.

"If you look at the Lions they made the final last year and have been improving," he said.

"Some of the rugby they've played this year has been fantastic.

"This Lions side, the way they play for each other, the way they can attack and the have a really strong set piece as well.

"I think they're a different kettle of fish than just playing the New Zealand sides."

The Rebels injury toll:

Jonah Placid (hip): 2 weeks Sean McMahon (ankle/knee): 2-3 weeks Nic Stirzaker (ankle): 4-5 weeks Jordy Reid (back): 5-7 weeks Jack Debreczeni (hamstring): 6-8 weeks Murray Douglas (foot): 8-10 weeks Harley Fox (ankle): 8-10 weeks Jack McGregor (foot): 4 months Sam Jeffries (ankle): indefinitely Tim Metcher (foot): indefinitely Pama Fou (knee): season Rob Leota (knee): season Dominic Shipperley (knee): season Mick Snowden (foot): season Alex Toolis (neck): season

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