All you need to know about the Lions' tour games
The Lions’ four-match Super Rugby tour of Australasia kicks off with a fixture against the Waratahs in Sydney on Friday, and is followed by clashes against the Rebels in Melbourne, the Blues in Auckland and the Highlanders in Dunedin. So far, the Lions have lost to the Jaguares (38-8), beaten the Reds (27-20) and lost to the Stormers (30-33). Here rugby writer Jacques van der Westhuyzen tells you everything you need to know about the Lions’ tour games
Waratahs (Friday, February 28, 10.15am)
Both teams will be coming off a bye, so will either be fresh or a little rusty, but it is a game the Lions will firmly believe they can win. The Waratahs are currently the worst performing team in the competition and one of only two sides without a win (the Bulls being the other). They have no log points after defeats to the Crusaders away, the Blues at home and the Rebels away. They’ve scored only six tries so far and conceded 14 so they’ll be a big target for the Lions, who’re one-from three, but a confident bunch after their good showing last time out. Last year the Lions pipped the Tahs 29-28 at Ellis Park, while in 2018 the Lions won 29-0 in Sydney.
Rebels (Saturday March 7, 10.15am)
The unpredictable and well-coached Rebels, under the guidance of Dave Wessels, are a team to be taken very seriously. While they’ve lost to the Sunwolves, Brumbies and Sharks (this last weekend), they beat the Waratahs and have so far shown they’re a team hungry for tries. They’ve scored 14 so far and asked plenty of questions with ball in hand. They face the struggling Highlanders in Dunedin this week, before the Lions’ visit, and will hope to pick up a confidence-boosting win. The Lions edged Wessels’ men 36-33 at Ellis Park last season, but only after scoring four second half tries in what was a quite amazing turn-around after the interval.
Blues (Saturday March 14, 8.05am)
The one-time powerhouse of New Zealand and Super Rugby, the Blues have struggled in recent years, but under Leon MacDonald they appear to be heading back in the right direction. They’ve been something of a surprise package this year, beating the Waratahs and the Bulls (last weekend), but having also gone down to the Chiefs and Crusaders. They’ve scored 13 tries so far. But, before the Lions visit they have to play the Stormers in Cape Town this weekend and the Hurricanes in Wellington – the results of which will determine what frame of mind they’re in for the encounter in three weeks’ time.
Highlanders (Saturday, March 21, 5.45am)
The last game on tour is always a tricky one for the touring South African teams and not too many players will enjoy going all the way down to the bottom of the South Island of New Zealand. But, if the Lions are still a happy bunch at this stage of their tour they may pull off a win here. The Highlanders are not the team of a few years ago and so far have lost to the Sharks at home and the Crusaders way, with just the win against the Brumbies (23-22) a highlight. They still have to play against the Rebels (home), Bulls (away) and Jaguares (away) before the Lions visit and could be a tired bunch after all their travels when that game comes around.