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Lions vs Waratahs
Super Rugby, 28 July, 2018
|Emirates Airlines Park|
|Fulltime - Lions 44, Waratahs 26|
|Referee: Glen Jackson|
|Touch judges: Marius van der Westhuizen & Rasta Rasivhenge|
|TMO: Marius Jonker|
The Lions host the Waratahs on Saturday night at Ellis Park, Johannesburg. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting from 11:05pm (AEST).
The last time the Waratahs won in ‘Jozi’ was in 2009 when the Lions were coached by Eugene Eloff – who had a winning rate of 28 per cent. The Waratahs were coached by Chris Hickey who had a win rate of around 66 per cent, which is a little lower than the Lions’ previous coach Johan Ackermann.
This year is different. Darryl Gibson’s Waratahs has won nine of 16 games. Swys de Bruin’s Lions has the same win record. They have very similar stats, including points scored, points allowed, tries scored and tries allowed.
One difference between the two is that the Waratahs have an extra draw against the Sharks in Durban. The other is that the Lions ignores penalties. The Lions opted to kick for only nine penalty goals all season.
The Lions have lost only two home games, both against Kiwi teams. The Waratahs lost three. One loss was against the Blues, the other against the Brumbies. The last was a 29-0 drubbing by the Lions themselves.
The other significant difference is consistency. While the Lions’ 2018 performance under de Bruin is not as good as Ackermann, their form has been very consistent all season.
Conversely, the Waratahs form in key departments (breakdown, set piece, attack, defence) has been erratic in the past month or so, ranging from totally awesome to dreadful within minutes of each other.
The one thing the Waratahs have been consistent has been Bernard Foley’s place kicks – an accuracy of 83 per cent – which fares slightly better than Elton Jantjies’ 81 per cent.
The outcome today will be mostly about what Gibson’s boys can do, rather than the predictable and ‘very difficult to beat’ Lions at home. Gibson brought Tolu Latu on early, ostensibly to counter Malcolm Marx’s breakdown dominance. I reckon it will help a bit. But, Marx will be Marx nevertheless.
The bookies’ odds for a Waratahs win are not good: over four to one. The Lions will predictably focus on stopping Israel Folau and Taqele Naiyaravoro who scored one-third of all Waratahs tries. The Waratahs will focus on regaining their mid-season consistency.
I will defer my prediction to MrChook. He states the winner to today will be rugby. Enjoy!