Preview: Lions v Jaguares

Date published: May 20 2016

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The Lions will want to continue their winning form after an impressive victory over the Blues last week when they host the Jaguares at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday.

A bonus-point victory for the home side would keep them out in front of the second-placed Sharks in the Africa One Conference table.

The Jaguares, who have managed only two wins from their ten matches so far, are currently in third position, nineteen points adrift of the Lions. Their impressive 73-27 win against the Kings has been their only real highlight so far.

These two sides have not met before and given the recent form of the men from Johannesburg it should be a certain victory for the home team.

Fly-half Elton Jantjies has been impressive throughout the season and last week's first-half performance was one of note.

The 25-year-old pivot's excellent vision accompanied by his precise tactical kicking allowed the powerful Lions forwards to dominate the opening half and set the tone for the remainder of the match.

The home side will once again be relying on their attacking prowess to give them the edge over the new boys. The Lions beat a total of 20 defenders in their seven-try thumping of the Auckland side.

With the likes of Jaco Kriel, Warren Whiteley and Lionel Mapoe the Jaguares will not want to be conceding the ball too easily, with the breakdown definitely an area that the visitors will have to restrict the Lions at.

The home side made nine turnovers in Round 12, a number that allowed for 82 carries and 11 clean breaks to take place.

The visitors made one too many errors in their narrow defeat to the Sharks last week in Buenos Aires and this, compounded by their lack of discipline, has seen them attend one too many hearings for off-the-ball incidents.

Handling errors in their 25-22 loss to the Durban side will have to be minimised this week if they are to exert any form of pressure on this Lions side.

Players to watch: In a team filled with players that put in brilliant performances each week, Franco Mostert has certainly not been trailing too far behind the likes of Jaco Kriel and captain Warren Whiteley. 25-year-old Mostert has been the source of quality first-phase ball at the lineout. Ranking at a towering 6ft 6in he has been instrumental in ensuring that his side gets good go-forward ball. Last week's hat-trick hero, Lionel Mapoe, has been putting in monumental performances on a weekly basis. What is even more impressive is that the midfielder's three tries came from only seven carries and he only needed to beat two defenders which is testament of how threatening he can be with ball in hand.

Stand-in captain Martín Landajo has been one of the stand-out players for the Argentine franchise. The nippy scrum-half has been known to clear the base of the ruck with rapid precision and ease. Despite being on the losing side last week, Landajo gained a total of 32 metres which included two clean breaks, seven carries and he even got on the score sheet with a try of his own after assisting with another.

Team news: Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has rotated his side with six changes made to the XV. Two alterations have been made to the backline as Howard Mnisi and Faf de Klerk come in for Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Ross Cronje at inside centre and scrum-half respectively. Up front Corne Fourie and Armand van der Merwe replace Dylan Smith and Malcolm Marx, with the latter duo having been named on the bench. In other changes Lourens Erasmus comes in at lock for Andries Ferreira while Cyle Brink gets a start, as Warwick Tecklenburg takes a spell among the replacements.

Meanwhile, the Jaguares have made four changes to their side. Julián Montoya comes in for suspended captain Agustín Creevy, which sees Facundo Bosch being named as cover for the hooker position. Scrum-half Martín Landajo takes over the captaincy from Creevy and the former pairs up with Nicolás Sánchez as the half-back combination. A hefty ten-week ban for back-rower Leonardo Senatore allows Facundo Isa to be promoted from the bench to the starting XV. Tomás Lezana replaces Javier Ortega Desio in the number seven position with the latter being demoted to the replacement bench. Manuel Montero makes way for Lucas González Amorosino on the left wing in the only change in the backline. Juan Martín Hernández and Matías Orlando will continue their pairing in the midfield.

Form: The Lions are topping the Africa Two Conference table, two points clear of the Sharks and also have a game in hand. The have been the in-form team of the South African franchises despite being hammered by the Hurricanes two weeks ago. They however bounced back in brilliant fashion last week to record a seven-try thumping against the Blues.

The visitors are languishing in second last position in the Africa Two Conference table, after only managing two wins from their ten matches. Their only victories came against the Kings and their opening 34-33 victory over the Cheetahs. Their impressive Round Ten win against the Kings has allowed them to maintain a nine-point gap ahead of the Port Elizabeth outfit.

Prediction: The Jaguares are known for their physicality but their lack of discipline will cost them a lot more than just yellow and red cards. Lions to beat the Jaguares by at least 20 points.

The teams:

Lions: 15 Jaco van der Walt, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Lourens Erasmus, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Corne Fourie
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Jacques van Rooyen, 19 Ruan Ackermann, 20 Warwick Tecklenburg, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 23 Sylvian Mahuza

Jaguares: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Emiliano Boffelli, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Juan Martín Hernández, 11 Lucas González Amorosino, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo (c), 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Tomás Lezana, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Matías Alemanno, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Julián Montoya, 1 Santiago García Botta.
Replacements: 16 Facundo Bosch, 17 Facundo Gigena, 18 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Javier Ortega Desio, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Santiago González Iglesias, 23 Ramiro Moyano.

Date: Saturday, May 21
Venue: Emirates Airlines Stadium, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 15:00 local (13:00 GMT)
Referee: Stuart Berry
Assistant Referees: Cwengile Jadezweni, Lourens van der Merwe
TMO: Willie Vos

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