JOHANNESBURG – The Lions have every reason to think they’re going to make it two from two in Australia when they come up against the Reds in Brisbane in a Super Rugby match on Saturday.
Having already dispatched the Waratahs, in a stunning 29-0 win last Friday - Swys de Bruin’s team will start as favourites against the 2011 champions at Lang Stadium. But that hasn’t always been the case for the Lions or South African teams visiting the Gold Coast area in the past.
The Springboks have had their problems in Brisbane in the past - who can forget the 49-0 defeat inflicted on the Boks by the Australians in 2006 - and travelling Super Rugby teams, too, have struggled there. But, the Lions have become Aussie slayers in recent times having not lost to an Australian team in eight outings, going back to 2015.
In that time they have beaten this weekend’s opponents, the Reds, twice - 44-14 in Johannesburg last year and 18-17 in Brisbane in 2015 - while they also got the better of them in 2014, winning 23-20 at Ellis Park.
The teams didn’t meet in 2016 when the Lions only faced New Zealand teams while in 2013 the Lions didn’t feature in the Super Rugby.
The last time the Lions were beaten by an Australian side was on 16 May 2015 when the Brumbies won 30-20 in Canberra, while the last time the Reds triumphed against the Lions was on 19 May 2012 when they won 34-20 in Brisbane.
Since that last defeat to an Australian team in 2015, the Lions have beaten the Reds (twice, home and away), the Rebels (twice, both away), the Western Force (once, away), the Brumbies (once, away), and the Waratahs (twice, home and away).
On Saturday De Bruin and Co will be going all out for their ninth win in a row against all Australian opposition and they’ll be confident of pulling it off.
The Reds might have once been a force in southern hemisphere inter-provincial rugby, but they have battled in recent seasons and have finished no higher than 13th in the last three years.
The 2011 champions finished 14th on the overall standings last season, in 2016 they were 15th and in 2015 they were 13th. In the same time the Lions have progressed from their eighth-place finish in 2015 to second overall in 2016 and first last season.
This year, the Lions are also dominating the competition and currently sit atop the standings with six wins from nine for 30 points, while the Reds are 13th with three wins from eight.
News out of the Lions camp is that there are no serious injuries following last Friday’s outing against the Waratahs which means De Bruin will be able to pick the same team that kept the Sydney-siders scoreless for the first time in the competition’s history.
He’ll name his lineup on Thursday, with Saturday’s match kicking off at 7am (SA time). The two other tour games are in New Zealand against the Hurricanes and Highlanders.