Johannesburg – Elton Jantjies held his nerve to land a late conversion and a penalty as the Lions overcame a fierce second-half fightback from the Melbourne Rebels to win 37-32 in Super 15 rugby on Saturday.

Neither side had anything to play for, and only a handful of fans turned up to watch the Lions' final home game of a desperately disappointing season.

However, the Currie Cup champions rewarded the sparse crowd with a rare victory, giving them a chance of avoiding last place in the final standings.

James Hilgendorf's contentious try had given the Rebels a slender lead going into the final 15 minutes of the match, but Jaco Kriel dived over for the Lions with just over five minutes left before Jantjies made sure of the win with a penalty. – Sapa-AP