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The Lions host the Reds at Emirates Airlines Park, Johannesburg. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting from 12:05pm (AEDT).
In the last match-up eight months ago, the Reds beat the Lions in Queensland. It was one of the rare wins by the Queenslanders in 2019, a classic game of two halves where the visitors were held scoreless in the first half while Brad Thorn’s men amassed 24 points.
But playing at altitude today in cooler temperature is a different thing altogether, which represents an advantage to the home team. Losing narrowly last week against the Brumbies, the Reds will like their chances against a team which was thrashed last week by 30 points and five tries.
We did not get to observe Lions’ game model due to the overwhelming performance of the Jaguares. Nevertheless, they were poor. They only achieved a mere five linebreaks and missed a staggering 37 tackles.
The Reds on the other hand, demonstrated marked improvements compared to 2019, in particular the reduction in penalties. The attack through Isaac Lucas and James O’Connor was very good, facilitated by set-piece superiority over a rookie Brumbies lock pairing in the first half.
The Reds made minor changes to last week’s pack with Iszack Rodda and Alex Mafi coming into the starting team. Brad Thorn has also moved O’Connor into flyhalf which may prove to be a useful change. But the inclusion of Hamish Stewart at inside centre will blunt their attack somewhat.
Despite the crushing loss last week, the Lions have gone for the same team. This is a vote of confidence by new coach Ivan van Rooyen in his team and style, the latter of which will be similar to his predecessors.
This game will be a major tell for both coaches. While “Cash” van Rooyen’s is a successful Currie Cup coach, this is only his second Super Rugby game. As demonstrated by the Reds’ unsuccessful promotion of Brad Thorn from a successful domestic competition, the move may backfire for the Lions.
However, van Rooyen has been part of the side’s coaching team for over a decade and is known for keeping his team super fit. This will make a big difference at altitude. I will go with this perspective, and with the bookies’ odds. Lions for the win.
Kick-off: 12:05am (AEDT)
Venue: Emirates Airlines Park, Johannesburg
TV: Fox Sports
Online: Kayo Sports, Foxtel
Odds: Lions $1.53, Reds $2.51
15. Andries Coetzee, 14. Tyrone Green, 13. Duncan Matthews, 12. Dan Kriel, 11. Courtnall Skosan, 10. Elton Jantjies (c), 9. Morne van den Berg, 8. Len Massyn, 7. Vincent Tshituka, 6. Marnus Schoeman, 5. Marvin Orie, 4. Ruben Schoeman, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Pieter Jansen, 1. Dylan Smith.
Reserves: 16. Jan-Henning Campher, 17. Sti Sithole, 18. Carlu Sadie, 19. Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20. Ruan Vermaak, 21. Dillon Smit, 22. Manuel Rass, 23. Shaun Reynolds
15. Bryce Hegarty 14. Jock Campbell 13. Jordan Petaia 12. Hamish Stewart 11. Henry Speight 10. James O’Connor 9. Tate McDermott 8. Harry Wilson 7. Liam Wright (c) 6. Angus Scott-Young 5. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto 4. Izack Rodda 3. Taniela Tupou 2. Alex Mafi 1. JP Smith
Reserves: 16. Sean Farrell 17. Dane Zander 18. Josh Nasser 19. Angus Blyth 20. Seru Uru 21. Moses Sorovi 22. Isaac Lucas 23. Hunter Paisami
Referee: Jaco Peyper (SA)