The Lions will be hoping they can perform better against the Jaguares in Argentina tonight. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
It hasn’t happened on too many occasions in the recent past that the Lions have been tested mentally, but they face this challenge today when they come up against the Jaguares in a round six Super Rugby match in Buenos Aires.

The Lions are in a bit of a form slump having lost to the Blues  after being well set at half-time to win  and then struggling past the Sunwolves a week ago; both those matches on home soil. 

Defensively they were found wanting, tactically they got things wrong and from a leadership point of view questions were asked about the senior players in the team.

And today they’re up against a team that have caused them a few headaches in the past, especially in Buenos Aires. But it’s not only the back-to-back losses the Lions suffered there in 2016 and 2017 that will be on the minds of the coaching staff and players, but the fact the men from South America have also asked plenty of the Lions at Ellis Park, possibly because they play a similar style to that adopted by the Lions  and that is a very attack-minded game.

And this weekend the task is perhaps even more difficult than it’s been in the past when former coach Johan Ackermann took a weakened side to BA. Not only are the Lions suffering a bit of a confidence and form wobble at the moment, they’re up against a team that has struggled for form this year, and having lost to the lowly Reds at home last week.

The Jaguares are a desperate team and they’ve knocked over the Lions before, and will be confident they can do so again.

Also, while coach Swys de Bruin has picked his strongest team for the match, the side will miss key stalwarts like Warren Whiteley, Jaco Kriel, Andries Ferreira, Courtnall Skosan, Ruan Combrinck and Ross Cronje, to name a few who are on the injured list.

The big question today is, were the last two weeks simply a dip in form or are the Lions battling to come to terms with the new coaching team’s instructions and wants? How they perform over the 80 minutes at a venue where they have struggled in the past will answer that question.

De Bruin and Co though will be very keen for a quality showing, especially as last year’s champions, the Crusaders, visit Ellis Park next Sunday fresh off a win against the Bulls yesterday, and the week after that it’s the turn of the Stormers to come up to Joburg. After the struggles of the last two weeks, the next 21 days are big for De Bruin and his charges.

Jaguares: Joaquin Tuculet, Bautista Delguy, Matias Orlando, Bautista Ezcurra, Emiliano Boffelli, Nicolas Sanchez, Gonzalo Bertranou, Javier Ortega Desio, Marcos Kremer, Pablo Matera (capt), Tomas Lavanini, Matias Alemanno, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Agustin Creevy, Santiago Garcia Botta. Replacements: Julian Montoya, Felipe Arregui, Juan Pablo Zeiss, Guido Petti, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Martin Landajo, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Ramiro Moyano

Lions: Andries Coetzee, Sylvian Mahuza, Lionel Mapoe, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Elton Jantjies, Marco Jansen van Vuren, Kwagga Smith, Robert Kruger, Cyle Brink, Franco Mostert (capt), Marvin Orie, Ruan Dreyer, Robbie Coetzee, Jacques van Rooyen. Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Dylan Smith, Johannes Jonker, Lourens Erasmus, Len Massyn, Dillon Smit, Howard Mnisi, Shaun Reynolds

Kickoff: 9.40pm

Referee: Jamie Nutbrown

Saturday Star

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