JOHANNESBURG – The Lions scored seven converted tries in their 49-35 demolition of the Bulls in their own backyard with their rolling maul causing much of the damage during that encounter.
It was a hard defeat for Pote Human, who oversaw the forwards with John Mitchell still at the helm of the Pretoria-based side.
A year ago, the Lions pack dominated proceedings following the same blueprint that the Bulls had perfected during their Super Rugby reign in the late 2000s.
Human would like nothing more than for his pack to dominate the forward battle to at least exorcise the memory of the Loftus clash from a year ago.
“Last year they scored three tries from driving mauls here at Loftus, which still hurts, and I was the forwards coach. We know what to expect and we have prepared well for that,” Human said.
The stakes have been raised with the loss of lineout specialist and captain Lood de Jager because of a shoulder injury.
De Jager is not only a force in the lineouts but is a physical presence both with ball in hand and on defence.
Human yesterday made two injury-enforced changes to his starting XV with De Jager ruled out for three weeks and inside centre Burger Odendaal suffering a similar fate in training yesterday.
Former Junior Springbok lock Eli Snyman will replace De Jager in the second row, where he will be making the lineout calls, while Dylan Sage has been promoted to the run-on side.
While the Lions have also suffered a blow with the loss of inspirational captain Warren Whiteley, the Bulls will have to be at their best to reverse the recent losing trend against their Gauteng neighbours.
The Lions have won six of their last seven games against the Bulls, which includes four consecutive victories.
The Johannesburg side have made Ellis Park an impenetrable fortress against their South African counterparts, boasting a 14-game winning streak as hosts.
The Bulls' scrum will be looking to improve on a topsy-turvy performance against the Jaguares in Argentina last weekend with the Springbok front row of Trevor Nyakane, Schalk Brits and Lizo Gqoboka looking to give the team some early ascendency.
“We know it is going to be tough up front, but we worked really hard with (scrum coach) Daan Human this week so we are prepared for them,” Pote Human said.
“They (the Lions) brought in some young props that can scrum and we saw last week against the Stormers a great scrum.”
Double the superhero action this weekend and @DStv is celebrating!— Official Blue Bulls (@BlueBullsRugby) February 26, 2019
They will open up DStv Now to all subscribers for the two Vodacom #SuperRugby Marvel derbies.
Tune in this Saturday when Spider-Man faces Captain America at 15:05 on SS1#BullsFamily pic.twitter.com/mwvFVHqMVb
The Bulls starting XV:
Warrick Gelant, Cornal Hendricks, Jesse Kriel, Dylan Sage, Rosko Specman, Handré Pollard (capt), Embrose Papier, Duane Vermeulen, Hanro Liebenberg, Ruan Steenkamp, Eli Snyman, Jason Jenkins, Trevor Nyakane, Schalk Brits, Lizo Gqoboka;
Replacements: Corniel Els, Simphiwe Matanzima, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Jannes Kirsten, Tim Agaba, Ivan van Zyl, Manie Libbok, Divan Rossouw@ockertde