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Lions vs the Sharks - All the crucial battles

Super Rugby

JOHANNESBURG - Independent Media rugby writer Jacques van der Westhuyzen has examined the one-on-one battles from Saturday's match between the Lions and Sharks.

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Lions hooker Malcolm Marx will be a key player in Saturday's game. Photo: Gerhard Steenkamp/BackpagePix

Malcolm Marx v Chiliboy Ralepelle

It’s the rookie Lions hooker against the experienced former Springbok who has found a new home at the Sharks. At just 22 Marx is the future of South African rugby, but Ralepelle (30) will feel he has unfinished business with the national team, having never got the chance many felt he deserved. Both men have crucial roles to play on Saturday, especially in the line outs where they will be expected to find their jumpers every time they throw the ball in.

Jaco Kriel v Tera Mtembu

The hard-running Lions man is back to his very best after struggling to find his best form in 2016 and goes into today’s game on the back of an excellent performance against the Kings. He’ll, however, be hoping to get himself into more space than has been the case up to now, while opposite him the Sharks skipper is playing somewhat out of position having moved from the back of the scrum. He has a massive task to keep Kriel in check.

Elton Jantjies v Curwin Bosch

The match-up everyone’s been waiting for - the battle of the No 10s. It’s the experienced, more mature Jantjies facing the hot shot of the moment, the nothing-to-lose rookie Bosch, who’s only 19 years old. The Sharks man has been the subject of many discussions in the last few days, but up against South Africa’s best team, and away from home at that, it’s his biggest test yet. So who’ll stand tallest and leave the battlefield as the general?

Rohan Janse van Rensburg v André Esterhuizen

It’s the battle of two of South African rugby’s real bruisers. While Janse van Rensburg has been all class so far, scoring tries and sending his team-mates over the line, Esterhuizen has been all power in midfield, getting stuck into the action like always. As strong as both men are they also possess plenty of finesse and it’ll be interesting to see how they take each other on today. It should be a cracker.

Sharks' inside centre Andre Esterhuizen will be up against on of the Lions' stars. Photo: Gerhard Steenkamp/BackpagePix

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