Preview: Lions vs Reds
- 21 Mar 2014
After beating the Blues, the Lions will enter their clash against the Reds reassured in their ability to win at altitude.
While their gains on the field – like Marnitz Boshoff's outstanding success rate at goal – can be measured, the IT geeks have yet to invent an app that indicates of what value cohesion and trust brings to a Super Rugby outfit.
To that effect Lions coach Johan Ackermann has made but a solitary change to his run-on team with the seasoned Willie Wepener taking over at hooker from the injured Robbie Coetzee.
The confidence in Boshoff's boot also reached the point where Elton Jantjies has been sent to the Vodacom Cup to ensure he remains match ready in case the Johannesburg side's points machine breaks down.
The Reds started their tour of South Africa on a sombre note when Chris Feauai-Sautia and Ben Daly suffered long-term injuries during their loss to the Sharks. Still, when compared on paper, the Queensland outfit reeks of class and experience.
Flashy as Boshoff's boot may have been, the unsung heroes in the Lions set-up have been their pack of forwards, who have not taken a step back when matched against either all-Springbok or all-All Blacks front rows.
In Ackermann they arguable have one of the best forwards coaches out there, but what has really impressed is the mobility some of the bigger men have shown. Not only have they been accurate at set phase, the team's all-attacking mindset requires greater skill from their forwards and to that effect their ability to speed up second and third-phase play has caught many an opponent off guard.
The hope in Johannesburg on Saturday would be that the continuity the Lions have shown in team selection is replicated in their drive to achieve success against all odds – and in staying true to the theme of their season, safe money would be to back their opponents to for the win.
The Reds have played in fits and starts and will therefore be eager to put in a rounded performance that compliments the flair they have in their world beating halfback pairing. As always, the Reds' opponents should enter the match with a 'neutralise Genia' mindset – although keeping young Faf de Klerk under wraps could of equal value to a side looking to bank some points on tour.
Lions – 15 Coenie van Wyk, 14 JW Jonker, 13 Deon van Rensburg, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Willie Britz, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Franco Mostert, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Subs: 16 Mark Pretorius, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 MB Lusaseni, 20 Stephan de Wit, 21. Ross Cronjé, 22 Lionel Mapoe, 23 Ruan Combrinck
Reds – 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Rod Davies, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Mike Harris, 11 Lachie Turner, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Saia Fainga'a, 1 James Slipper
Subs: 16 James Hanson, 17 Albert Anae, 18 Jono Owen, 19 Ed O'Donoghue, 20 Beau Robinson, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Anthony Fainga'a/Ben Lucas 23 Dom Shipperley
Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images
SA rugby must get mojo back
South African rugby is desperately in need of a good-news story, with the general perception of the game’s current state of affairs having dwindled to an undeniably low ebb, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Aplon’s pulling his weight
Gio Aplon’s size has not counted against him in France, writes GAVIN MORTIMER.
Halfbacks may hamper Stormers
The success of the Stormers' new approach will hinge on the decision-making of their halfbacks, writes JON CARDINELLI.