Photo: EPA/Julian Smith
JOHANNESBURG – The Lions will be looking to make it three in a row in Australia on Friday when they come up against the Brumbies in Canberra (kickoff 11:45am).

Johan Ackermann’s men have already got the better of the Force and the Rebels, with bonus points, but this will be their toughest test by far.

Rugby writer Jacques van der Westhuyzen looks at some of the key clashes that could spice up this Super Rugby match:

Henry Speight v Courtnall Skosan

It’s the big match-up on the wing where the Wallaby power-runner is up against the aspirant Springbok. Skosan doesn’t have the weight or experience Speight possesses, but he has the pace, desire and eye for the tryline that sets him apart from many other wingers. 

There’s not much between the two men, with Speight having scored six tries and Skosan seven this season. The Aussie has made 12 line-breaks, to Skosan’s 15, an indication both men involve themselves in the action. The Lions man though is the more clinical of the two, making just 12 handling errors, to Speight’s 31. It promises to be a thrilling duel out wide.

Tevita Kuridrani v Lionel Mapoe

Both men have played a few Test matches for their countries and will be hoping to be involved again this June so they have everything to play for. Kuridrani has been a real star for his team in recent seasons, but then Mapoe, too, for the Lions. Kuridrani’s power-runs have netted him four tries, while the Lions man has crossed the whitewash twice this year. 

The Brumbies man prefers hanging onto the ball and having a go himself – he’s made just five good passes and four offloads in 71 ball carries – while Mapoe is more a playmaker; he’s made 32 good passes and seven offloads in 56 ball carries. Different styles, but an intriguing match-up.

Sam Carter v Franco Mostert

The Brumbies captain has a wealth of experience, while Mostert is still trying to become a permanent member of the Springbok team. That said, Mostert has been one of the stars of the competition this year and will be relishing the battle with Carter, who’s crossed for a quite astonishing five tries so far. 

There’s again no much to choose between the No 5 locks; both are mobile and enjoy carrying the ball and both seemingly pull off several tackles per game. Mostert though, with seven lineout steals to Carter’s nil, appears to be the better lineout man. Who’ll dominate this contest?

Ben Alexander v Johannes Jonker

Wowie talk about a mismatch! The Brumbies front row powerhouse will earn his 139th Brumbies cap tomorrow; Jonker from the Lions hasn’t even started five games. They will both be relatively fresh for the much-anticipated front-row battle with Alexander coming off a few weeks’ rest and Jonker playing off the bench last week. 

They’ll both want to put in a solid showing in the scrums as their teams look for dominance so expect a fierce battle between the veteran and the rookie. In open play, the Brumbies man enjoys running with the ball, while Jonker has shown he likes putting in a few tackles. It’s a match-up of heavies to be appreciated.

At a glance:

Friday’s match kicks off at 11.45am, SA time. The Brumbies lead the Australian Conference with 18 points from three wins (nine matches), while the Lions lead the way in Africa Conference 2 with 42 points from nine wins (10 matches).


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