Preview: Pumas v Golden Lions

Date published: August 27 2015

The Golden Lions' face a tricky assignment when they travel to Nelspruit to go head-to-head with the Pumas.

Although they are one of only two unbeaten teams left in the competition – along with the Blue Bulls – the Lions know they can not underestimate the Pumas in Nelspruit as their hosts have gained a reputation as giant killers in front of their home crowd.

Earlier this year, the Pumas kickstarted their campaign in fine style with a deserved 33-24 victory over the Sharks in Nelspruit. 

They then suffered a 44-27 defeat to the Lions, in the corresponding fixture in Johannesburg two weeks ago, before returning to the victory trail with a hard-fought 15-13 triumph over the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth.

Their last result was a crucial one in the grand scheme of things and Pumas coach MJ Mentz has made just one change to his run-on side for this weekend's clash with the Lions.

Giant Mtyanda returns at lock, at the expense of Marius Coetzer, and will pack down in the second row alongside Rudi Matthee. Justin Stander provides lock cover from the replacements bench.

The Lions' campaign has started well and after three successive bonus point wins they are in joint first place on the table alongside the Blue Bulls who have a superior points difference.

They will take comfort from the fact they beat the Pumas in Johannesburg but things didn't always go smoothly in that encounter. Despite being without inspirational captain Jaco Kriel this weekend, the Lions have plenty of game-breakers in their ranks.

Full-back Ruan Combrinck is one of the most potent broken-field runners in the competition and Springbok fly-half Marnitz Boshoff's accurate goalkicking should keep the scoreboard ticking for the visitors.

They also have potent finishers in Courtnall Skosan and Sampie Mastriet on the wings, and keep an eye on flanker Kwagga Smith who is expected to do well at the breakdown.

Prediction: The Pumas are a different side in their own backyard. With the visitors making several changes to their run-on side, another win for the hosts is on the cards. It will be close, but the Pumas to win by two points!

The teams:

Pumas: 15 JW Bell, 14 Bernado Botha, 13 Jerome Pretorius, 12 Stefan Watermeyer (captain), 11 Rosco Spekman, 10 JC Roos, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Jason-Colin Fraser, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Giant Mtyanda, 4 Rudi Mathee, 3 Khwezi Mona, 2 Frank Herne, 1 Corne Fourie.
Replacements: 16 Francois du Toit, 17 De-Jay Terblanche, 18 Jannie Stander, 19 Jaco Bouwer, 20 Reynier van Rooyen, 21 Justin van Staden, 22 Hoffmann Maritz

Golden Lions: 15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Sampie Mastriet, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ross Cronje (c), 8 Fabian Booysen, 7 Stephan de Wit, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Martin Muller, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Julian Redelinghuys, 18 MB Lusaseni, 19 Jano Venter, 20 Jaco van der Walt, 21 Alwyn Hollenbach, 22 Anthony Volmink.

Date: Saturday, August 29
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Kick-off: 19:10 local (17:10 GMT)
Referee:  Lesego Legoete
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs, Jaco Kotze