JOHANNESBURG – Finally a game in the Currie Cup that’s got the fans excited!
Today’s showdown (3pm kickoff) between the Lions and Western Province is the first real blockbuster of the competition, pitting two attacking teams against each other, with unbeaten records on the line.
The Lions go into the clash with a three-from-three record, having already got the better of Griquas, the Bulls and the Cheetahs, while WP are two-from-two after registering big wins against the Cheetahs and the Pumas.
It has been somewhat surprising to learn that quite a few men-in-the-know in South African rugby have installed John Dobson’s team as the favourites to go all the way this year.
Cheetahs boss Daan Human called them the team to beat, while Victor Matfield said WP played a style of rugby closest to that dished up week-in and week-out by the All Blacks.
The Lions would wholeheartedly disagree. It is they, after all, who have mastered the attacking game in South Africa, by using the full width of the field and not showing any fear in playing from all parts and at any time.
Either way, today’s match should be a cracker and give a good indication of which team will be the one to beat this year.
Both teams are high on confidence; the Lions after demolishing the Cheetahs last week, the Western Province boys after going to Nelspruit and showing up the until-then highly-rated Pumas.
In what should be good conditions, expect a high-speed game, with plenty of flowing, attacking rugby.
The Lions are back to what can be classified as their first choice Currie Cup team with Andries Coetzee back after a week off.
But it has been the men on his inside – Lionel Mapoe, Howard Mnisi and Shaun Reynolds – who have been the danger-men up to now, creating all the opportunities for the outside players, like the try-hungry Sylvian Mahuza.
Western Province will also do well to keep a close watch on Hacjivah Dayimani, whose showdown with the equally talented Juarno Augustus should be a highlight of the match.
The exciting backline players SP Marais, Ruhan Nel, Sergeal Petersen and Dillyn Leyds are also sure to keep the Lions’ defence guessing.
#LIOvWP | "[The Lions] is a very special team. The work rate of these guys and the humility at the Lions is the biggest standout for me." - @Marvin_Orie. captain of the Xerox Golden Lions. Read more in our online match programme here >>https://t.co/Lfxqb2OqEG#LetsUnite pic.twitter.com/ul71G45bxr
Teams For Ellis Park
Lions: Andries Coetzee, Sylvian Mahuza, Lionel Mapoe, Howard Mnisi, Courtnall Skosan, Shaun Reynolds, Dillon Smit, Hacjivah Dayimani, Len Massyn, James Venter, Marvin Orie, Rhyno Herbst, Jacobie Adriaanse, Corné Fourie, Sti Sithole.
Bench: Pieter Jansen, Johannes Jonker, Reinhard Nothnagel, Driaan Bester, Nic Groom, Gianni Lombard, Wandisile Simelane.
Western Province: Dillyn Leyds, Sergeal Petersen, Ruhan Nel, Dan Kriel, SP Marais, Josh Stander, Jano Vermaak, Juarno Augustus, Ernst van Rhyn, Kobus van Dyk, JD Schickerling, Chris van Zyl, Michael Kumbirai, Scarra Ntubeni, Ali Vermaak.
Bench: Chad Solomon, Caylib Oosthuizen, Carlu Sadie, Salmaan Moerat, Chris Massyn, Paul de Wet, Dan du Plessis.