Lions coach Eugene Eloff has named an unchanged starting XV for the trip to Wellington, to play the Boland Cavaliers in a Currie Cup Round 12 match on Saturday.
Rugby 365 reports that Eloff, who praised his team for their ability to finish off the opportunities created and scoring “some spectacular tries”, has given the Lions the singular aim of continuing their recent good form.
The Lions are secure in the knowledge that if results go their way – the Free State Cheetahs must beat the Blue Bulls, without the latter getting a bonus point – a five-pointer in Wellington could propel Eloff’s charges into second place on the standings.
With the pressure having shifted away from the Lions and placed squarely on the shoulders of the Cheetahs to remain in the top four – with Province in resurgent form following the return of their Springboks – they go into this weekend’s match with the freedom to express themselves.
Having scored a massive 19 tries in their previous two matches, accumulating 124 points in the process, the Lions will look to continue their attacking prowess, while fine-tuning other aspects of the game as the tournament heads into the home stretch.
Eloff did have one problem with his team’s recent performances – the set pieces, in particular the scrums and the line-outs where they were disrupted.
While the starting XV is unchanged, there are three changes on the replacement bench.
Duncan Naudé, who joined the Lions from the Pumas last week, replaces Lubabalo Mtyanda as second row cover. The 23-year-old Naudé, who stands at 2.03m and weigh in at a hefty 130kg, was only cleared by the South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Thursday.
The Pumas, who claimed they had a “verbal contract” with the young star, refused to sign his release form, but SARU ruled in favour of the Lions – opening the way for Eloff to introduce the lanky lock to the Currie Cup fPremier Division.
Jaco van Schalkwyk, back from his one-week suspension for a spear tackle, comes in on the bench for Dusty Noble.
World Cup-winning Springbok Jaque Fourie makes a welcome return from injury and comes back into the matchday 22 for Rayno Benjamin.
Lions: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Michael Killian, 13 Jaco Pretorius, 12 Doppies la Grange, 11 Trompie Nontshinga, 10 Earl Rose, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Justin Wheeler, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar (captain), 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Anton van Zyl, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Lawrence Sephaka, 18 Duncan Naudé, 19 Derick Minnie, 20 Louis Strydom, 21 Jaque Fourie, 22 Jaco van Schalkwyk.