Lions have a golden chance to win their first game at Loftus Versfeld in more than four years when their strong URC team take on the Bulls’ Currie Cup squad in Pretoria on Saturday night.
Their 49-35 win on March 3, 2018 gave the Lions a hat-trick to start their Super Rugby campaign that year, and Swys de Bruin’s side would go on to play the final against the Crusaders.
That was the last year of the De Bruin / Warren Whiteley golden era and the Lions would now normally be underdogs when they face the Bulls, who qualified for the United Rugby Championship quarter-finals, and dominated rugby. local with back-to-back-back Currie Cup crowns.
But the importance of securing a home quarter-final in the URC – they will have to beat the Ospreys next Friday in Swansea for a chance – means that the team of players has already begun preparations for that vital overseas match and the manager. of the Currie Cup Gert Smal had to settle for the ‘second rank’.
The Lions, on the other hand, are out of contention with the URC and have pretty much picked their best team available to try and score their first Currie Cup win after nine straight losses this season.
Smal believes the pressure will be on visitors to Pretoria on Saturday.
“We have 27 players unavailable due to injuries and the URC team has started training, while the Lions will bring their URC team,” Smal said on Friday.
“We want to field the best possible team and play the best we can, but I think the pressure will be on the Lions. We knew it would happen at some point and that’s right where we are now.
“They are the best team we could select and the Lions have been playing much better now than at the start of the competition. They like to play and they will challenge us in all areas, ”Smal said.
Bulls need to keep in touch with cheetahs
If the Bulls can take a couple of bonus points out of the game, they will keep them in touch with the Free State Cheetahs, who are supposed to beat the Sharks in Bloemfontein, and still have a game in hand in Smal’s team.
While the Lions will field the exciting pair of scrum-half Morne van den Berg and talented opening-half Jordan Hendrikse, the Bulls have chosen a combination of young and relatively under-experienced midfielder in Keagan Johannes and Juan Mostert, and there will be some uncertainty about their handling of the game and what rhythm of rugby the home team wants to play.
bulls: James Verity-Amm, David Kriel, Stedman Gans, Marco Jansen van Vuren, Kabelo Mokoena, Juan Mostert, Keagan Johannes, Muller Uys, Reinhardt Ludwig, Jaco Labuschagne, Janko Swanepoel, Raynard Roets, Dylan Smith, Bismarck du Plessoka, Lizo Gqobis (captain). Bench: Sidney Tobias, Cebo Dlamini, Francois Kloppers, Ruan Delport, Stephan Smith, Bernard van der Linde, Diego Appollis, Richard Kriel.
lions: Quan Horn, Stean Pienaar, Wandisile Simelane, Burger Odendaal (captain), Edwill van der Merwe, Jordan Hendrikse, Morne van den Berg, Francke Horn, Ruan Venter, Sibusiso Sangweni, Reinhard Nothnagel, Ruben Schoeman, Ruan Dreyer, Jaco Visagie, Sti Sithole. Bench: PJ Botha, Heiko Pohlmann, Asenathi Ntlabakanye, Cal Smid, Jarod Cairns, Andre Warner, Henko van Wyk, Tiaan Swanepoel.