Malcolm Marx (c) will be crucial against the Crusaders at Ellis Park. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
It didn’t go according to plan in Buenos Aires last week, but if the Lions get up and beat eight-time Super Rugby champions the Crusaders at Ellis Park on Sunday (2.30pm kick-off) then they’ll be back on track, feeling they have turned the proverbial corner.

Coach Swys de Bruin made a few rotational switches for the outing against the Jaguares last week with an eye on the assignment against last year’s champions this week and he’ll hope his plan pays off tomorrow. A week ago the likes of Harold Vorster, Andries Ferreira and Malcolm Marx were rested, or sat out the match because of a niggle, but they are back in the starting team, ready to give it their all in a match the Lions simply have to win.

They have struggled in the last three weeks, losing to the Blues and Jaguares (last week) and just edging the Sunwolves, and have slipped out of first place on the overall log. De Bruin’s men have made poor on-field decisions, defended badly and not been as clinical as they were in the first few rounds.

Harold Vorster (L) will make a welcome return to the Lions team. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

And this week, De Bruin has also included exciting rookies, wing Madosh Tambwe and loose-forward Hacjivah Dayimani, in his starting team in an effort to rejuvenate the side after the travails of the last few weeks. And, at scrumhalf Dillon Smit gets a starting chance, taking over from Marco Janse van Vuren, with Ross Cronjé still out with a rib injury.

Vorster takes over from Rohan Janse van Rensburg at inside centre; the latter missing out on the matchday squad completely. The tall and strong Vorster said the rotational policy adopted by De Bruin would hopefully pay off this weekend.

“There’s a lot of competition in the centres and that’s great; I love it,” he said. “Coach Swys likes to play around there with the rotational thing, but it’s good because it keeps all the guys fresh, and we all need a break at some stage.”

Vorster added the last few weeks’ struggles were not a bad thing for the Lions. “You learn a lot about yourself and the team in times like these,” he said. “You see the errors (one makes) more clearly in a defeat than you do when things go well. As a team we need to switch on again, finish games off and play for the full 80 minutes.”

Lions back Hacjivah Dayimani is tackled by Matias Orlando of the Jaguares. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Indeed, the Lions have been sloppy in recent weeks, allowing the opposition to score soft tries against them, often straight after they themselves have crossed the whitewash. Concentrating and staying focused for the full duration of the match is something the players and coaching team have spoken about. The Lions have scored 34 tries so far - the most in the competition - but have let in 26; with only the Sunwolves having a worse defensive record with 33 tries conceded.

Meanwhile, Crusaders boss Scott Robertson has recalled fit-again wing Seta Tamanivalu to the team after missing out last week, while Matt Todd and Bryn Hall also return from injury. The visitors, like the Lions, have also lost two matches this season.


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