The Lions host the Highlanders in Round 14 of Super Rugby in Johannesburg on Saturday and the early betting market confidence has been with the visitors.
Lions v Highlanders, Saturday 18th May, Johannesburg, KO 15:05 (South African time)
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant Refs: Jaco Peyper, Griffin Colby
TMO: Willie Vos
Weather Forecast – Johannesburg
The Lions gave their play off hopes a boost when they edged out the Waratahs 29-28 in a home fixture last weekend. They were returning from a bye in that game having being on tour where they managed 1 win from 3 matches. The success came away at the Chiefs (23-17) either side of a loss to the Brumbies (31-20) in Canberra and the Crusaders (36-10) in Christchurch.
The Lions have won 3 and lost 2 of their home fixtures and the wins came against opposition from overseas. They launched a stunning comeback to beat the Rebels 36-33 in Joburg and also beat Jagaures 47-39 at this venue whilst the defeats were of the heavy variety in local derby matches with the Bulls (30-12) and the Sharks (42-5).
The Lions come into Round 14 with a record of 6 wins and 5 defeats, fourth in the ultra tight SA Conference, only 3 points off the top and just 2 points off the bottom. The Lions run in looks tough with this game followed by a trip to the Sharks, home games against the Stormers and the Hurricanes and a visit to the Bulls.
The Highlanders are in SA for this match followed by a trip to Cape Town to take on the Stormers. They held off Jaguares for a 32-27 home win last week and they are unbeaten in their last 4 outings with 3 wins and a draw at home to the Chiefs. Their overall record now comprises of 5 wins, 2 draws and 5 defeats, third best in New Zealand, 11 points behind the second placed Hurricanes and 6 clear of the fourth placed Chiefs.
The Highlanders have won 2 of their 6 away fixtures with the victories coming at the Chiefs (30-27) in Round 1 and more recently the Sunwolves (52-0) in Round 11. They have lost 2 New Zealand derby matches on their travels and 1 visit to Australia saw a much changed side go down 24-19 to the Rebels in Round 3.
The Highlanders have made 8 previous visits to the Lions, losing 6 and winning 2 (1999 and 2005). Their last trip to Joburg came in the 2016 semi final when the Lions came out on top 42-30.
In their 2018 tour the Highlanders edged out the Bulls (29-28) at Loftus but were well beaten by the Sharks (38-12) in Durban.
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Kwagga Smith, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Stephan Lewies, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Malcolm Marx (captain), 1 Dylan Smith
Substitutes: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Vincent Tshituka, 20 Hacjivah Dayimani, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Shaun Reynolds, 23 Tyrone Green
Highlanders: 15 Matt Faddes, 14 Jordan Hyland, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Sio Tomkinson, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Shannon Frizell, 7 Luke Whitelock (captain), 6 Dillon Hunt, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Josh Dickson, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Ayden Johnstone
Substitutes: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Jack Whetton, 20 James Lentjes, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Dan Hollinshead, 23 Waisake Naholo
Recent Head to Head (any venue)
2018 Dunedin Highlanders 39-27 Lions (Tries 5-4)
2016 Johannesburg Lions 42–30 Highlanders (Tries 5-4 ) (semi final)
2016 Dunedin Highlanders 34-15 Lions (Tries 4-2)
2015 Johannesburg Lions 28–23 Highlanders (Tries 3-2 )
2014 Dunedin Highlanders 23–22 Lions (Tries 3-4 )
2011 Dunedin Highlanders 22–26 Lions (Tries 1-2 )
2010 Dunedin Highlanders 39–29 Lions (Tries 3-5 )
2009 Johannesburg Lions 27–22 Highlanders (Tries 4-3 )
Lions 9/10 WSB, GG Gaming, Sportingbet, Hollywood
Draw 28/1 WSB, Sunbet
Highlanders even money WSB, GG Gaming, BetOlimp
Note, odds quoted are available at the time of writing but are subject to change.
I believe that when the first markets from GG Gaming came out on Sunday there was some +3.5 about the Highlanders and some members of our discussion forum latched on to the visitors.
At the time of writing it’s shaping up into a “choice game” and whilst team news could see a further swing, I’m inclined to go with sentiment that the Highlanders will win here.
The Lions have been fortunate in 2 of their 3 home wins, against the Rebels and the Tahs. I take the view the Highlanders will offer a sterner test than those 2 sides so unless the Lions can raise their game significantly they could struggle here.
Bet: 2.5 units, Highlanders to win at even money, WSB, GG Gaming, BetOlimp
(Unit Scale 1 to 5)
Remember you can have your own say on all this week’s matches on our discussion forum