The Lions host the Sharks in a Super Rugby quarter final in Johannesburg on Saturday, it’s the second meeting between the teams in the space of a week but this time the stakes are of the knockout variety.
Lions v Sharks, Saturday 22nd July, Johannesburg, KO 14:30 (South African time)
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco van Heerden (South Africa), Egon Seconds (South Africa)
Television match official: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
Weather Forecast – Johannesburg
In the final round of the regular season the door finally opened for the Lions to overhaul the Crusaders and finish top of the overall standings. They obliged with a 27-10 victory over the Sharks in Durban and they will remain in Johannesburg for as long as they are in the play offs. That play off road starts here at a venue where the Lions have won 13 on the spin including play off matches against the Crusaders and Highlanders in 2016 where they went on to finish as runners up. The Lions only loss this season came away to Jaguares back in Round 3 and they haven’t lost to South African opposition since Round 12 of the 2015 campaign.
The Sharks would have been looking at a visit to New Zealand had the Crusaders not relinquished their grip on top spot overall. The Sharks finished 23 points behind the Lions in Africa Conference 2 but the first meeting between the teams this season, which was also staged in Joburg, was close and controversial with the Lions edging it 34-29. Away from home this season the Sharks did beat another of the quarter finalists in the shape of the Brumbies back in Round 2 and they also won at the Cheetahs, Jaguares and Sunwolves. The Sharks appearance in the play offs in 2016 was short lived as they were humiliated 41-0 by the Hurricanes in Wellington in the quarters.
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Jaco Kriel (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen
Substitutes: 16. Akker vd Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 23 Sylvian Mahuza
Sharks: 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 S’busiso Nkosi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt (captain), 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Thomas du Toit
Substitutes: 16. Franco Marais/Stephan Coetzee, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Jean Droste, 20 Tera Mtembu, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Garth April, 23 Jeremy Ward
Recent Head to Head (any venue)
2017 Durban Sharks 10–27 Lions (Tries 1-3)
2017 Johannesburg Lions 34-29 Sharks (Tries 3-2)
2016 Johannesburg Lions 37-10 Sharks (Tries 5-2)
2016 Durban Sharks 9–24 Lions (Tries 0-2 )
2015 Johannesburg Lions 23–21 Sharks (Tries 3-3 )
2015 Durban Sharks 29–12 Lions (Tries 4-0 )
2014 Johannesburg Lions 12–25 Sharks (Tries 0-1 )
2014 Durban Sharks 37–23 Lions (Tries 4-2 )
Lions -15.5 points 9/10 Hollywood, BetXchange
Sharks +17.5 points 9/10 Sunbet
Note, odds quoted are correct at the time of last update but are subject to change.
I think it’s probably best to draw a line through last week’s result in Durban and my view is the handicap looks well set. I’m actually going back all of 12 months to draw some inspiration for a pick in the alternative markets and once again its the winning margin that takes my eye. In home play offs last season the Lions beat the Saders by 17 points and then the Highlanders by 12. I can envisage that sort of win margin again here so Lions 11-20, whilst not easy to land, is far from a stab in the dark.
Bet: 2 units Lions win by 11-20 points inc 5/2 WSB
Remember you can have your own say on all this week’s matches on our discussion forum