Planet Rugby

Preview: Lions v Sharks

11th April 2014 09:19

Share:

Derick Minnie Lions

Key return: Derick Minnie

Returning to winning ways will be front of mind for the Lions when they host the Sharks at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Friday.

Having started the season superbly, the side that has caused the most upsets thus far suffered an implosion of note against the Crusaders, and will have to rectify the schoolboy errors that crept into their game if they are to have any chance of beating the top-ranked Super Rugby team.

In preparation for the contest the Lions would have worked tirelessly to ensure the accuracy they produced at set-phase in previous matches again becomes one of their key strengths.

Equally a step-up in defence, particularly from broken play, should make it even tougher for the Sharks to record their first Super Rugby victory at Ellis Park since 2010.

As far as personnel changes are concerned, Derick Minnie can be viewed as a tremendous boost to a side that lacked accuracy at the breakdown.

Minnie is regarded as one of the best open-side flankers in the country and his influence on the team, from both a physical and mental perspective, is unlikely to go by unnoticed.

In their previous home victories against the Sharks, the Lions entered each of those contests with external motivation.

The win in 2012, prior to their Super Rugby relegation, was Ackermann's first outing as head coach and on that occasion they team dedicated their performance to long-serving centre and captain Doppies La Grange.

The Sharks will be pleased to know that this should not be a tribute match of any sort and that their opponents have lost some of the momentum gain through victories over the Blues and Reds.

Playing at altitude the week after their bye is likely to be the real poser for Jake White's men who - in a somewhat ironic twist - will dedicate their performance to winger and soon to be Super Rugby centurion Odwa Ndungane.

Ndungane has been one of their most consistent players over the years and could be one of the most desperate men in the competition to win a Super Rugby title as it could be the only way to silence his twin brother, Akona, who has two trophies to show for his efforts.

From a team perspective, the Sharks have reverted from their more expansive ways to a system where structure is placed on a pedestal.

As formidable as their pack is on paper, White would have noticed that one of the Lions' key strengths is their work at scrum time.

Domination up front will therefore be a priority.

This should be a cracker between two sides who have goal-kickers who will not let ill-discipline go unpunished.

Prediction: The Sharks should showcase a superior defensive structure and win it by seven.

The teams:

Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Willie Britz, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Franco Mostert, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 MB Lusaseni, 20 Jaco Kriel, 21 Ross Cronjé, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Alwyn Hollenbach.

Sharks: 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 S'bura Sithole, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (c), 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Etienne Oosthuizen, 20 Keegan Daniel, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 Paul Jordaan, 23 SP Marais.

Date: Saturday, April 12
Kick-off: 19:10 local (18:10 BST, 17:10 GMT)
Venue: Ellis Park
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen, Stefan Breytenbach (South Africa)
Television match official: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

By Michael Mentz
@Michael_Mentz

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Super Rugby
Saturday , August 2
Waratahs vs Crusaders19:40
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Super Rugby
Saturday , July 26
Crusaders 38 - 6 SharksCrusaders vs Sharks Report
Waratahs 26 - 8 BrumbiesWaratahs vs Brumbies Report
Saturday , July 19
Brumbies 32 - 30 ChiefsBrumbies vs Chiefs Report
Sharks 31 - 27 HighlandersSharks vs Highlanders Report
Saturday , July 12
Crusaders 34 - 8 HighlandersCrusaders vs Highlanders Report
Reds 3 - 34 WaratahsReds vs Waratahs Report
Lions 60 - 25 CheetahsLions vs Cheetahs Report
Stormers 10 - 34 SharksStormers vs Sharks Report
Friday , July 11
Blues 8 - 11 ChiefsBlues vs Chiefs Report
Brumbies 47 - 25 Western ForceBrumbies vs Western Force Report
Bulls 40 - 7 Melbourne RebelsBulls vs Melbourne Rebels Report
Sunday , July 6
Waratahs 44 - 16 HighlandersWaratahs vs Highlanders Report
Saturday , July 5
Crusaders 21 - 13 BluesCrusaders vs Blues Report
Western Force 30 - 20 RedsWestern Force vs Reds Report
Stormers 16 - 0 BullsStormers vs Bulls Report
Cheetahs 27 - 20 SharksCheetahs vs Sharks Report
Friday , July 4
Chiefs 24 - 16 HurricanesChiefs vs Hurricanes Report
Lions 34 - 17 Melbourne RebelsLions vs Melbourne Rebels Report
More Super Rugby results
International Match
Saturday , June 28
South Africa 55 - 6 ScotlandSouth Africa vs Scotland Report
More International Match results
Super Rugby
Hurricanes 16 - 9 CrusadersHurricanes vs Crusaders Report
Waratahs 39 - 8 BrumbiesWaratahs vs Brumbies Report
Western Force 14 - 40 BluesWestern Force vs Blues Report
Friday , June 27
Highlanders 29 - 25 ChiefsHighlanders vs Chiefs Report
Melbourne Rebels 20 - 36 RedsMelbourne Rebels vs Reds Report
More Super Rugby results
International Match
Saturday , June 21
Australia 39 - 13 FranceAustralia vs France Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00