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Stakes high for the Lions in must-win clash against the Bulls

Malcolm Marx of the Emirates Lions scores his try during the Super Rugby game against the Jaguares at Emirates Airline Park Stadium, Johannesburg on July 21 2018.
Malcolm Marx of the Emirates Lions scores his try during the Super Rugby game against the Jaguares at Emirates Airline Park Stadium, Johannesburg on July 21 2018.
Image: Christiaan Kotze/Backpagepix

As if it wasn’t high enough‚ the stakes were raised considerably for the Lions on Friday as their Super Rugby prospects were placed in greater peril.

“The results this morning didn’t go our way‚” sighed coach Swys de Bruin after the Highlanders downed the Waratahs and the Chiefs thumped the Rebels.

Those wins elevated both teams above the eighth-placed Lions on the points table‚ but they will slip out of the last qualification spot come final whistle in the match between the Stormers and the Sharks on Saturday. “The reality is now we need to go and win‚” he said about their match against the Bulls at Loftus on Saturday.

“Between the Sharks and the Stormers one will win and go through. We’ll have to give a full on effort. You can’t depend on other teams to do the job for you‚” said the coach. De Bruin has gone the bold route in selection by re-introducing Elton Jantjies to the starting team at inside centre‚ while retaining Shaun Reynolds at flyhalf.

If anything it should lend the Lions more in attack but there may be lingering questions about what it might do to their already fragile defence.

“The way we play‚ 10 and 12 interchange a lot. He’ll have 12 on his back but he’s going to be in the flyhalf position often‚” De Bruin said about Jantjies.

The coach played down the assertion the match will become a battle of wills between Jantjies and the departing Handre Pollard.

“I don’t think it is a battle between the two. At the Springboks last year I worked with both where they are two top players together. It will be interesting to see how they go.”

De Bruin made four changes in total to his side and some of them places the accent firmly on attack.

Dynamo outside back Tyrone Green cracks the nod at right wing‚ fleet footed Hacjivah Dayimani replaces the injured Kwagga Smith at No 8‚ while Rhyno Herbst has been restored to fitness to take up position in the second row.

De Bruin admitted he had to pick up his side emotionally after their 37-17 defeat at the hands of the Hurricanes last week.

“The Bulls will give us a completely different picture than what we got against the Hurricanes. They have a top pack‚ with two giant locks. They build a lot around their line-out and maul.” With several of the Bulls stars playing their last game at Loftus‚ De Bruin is keen to keep his team away from the sideshow.

“They are losing some of their strongest players and it will be emotional for them. We can’t get dragged into their emotions.”

Lions to play the Bulls: Andries Coetzee; Tyrone Green‚ Lionel Mapoe‚ Elton Jantjies‚ Aphiwe Dyantyi; Shaun Reynolds‚ Ross Cronje; Hacjivah Dayimani‚ Vincent Tshituka‚ Cyle Brink; Marvin Orie‚ Rhyno Herbst; Carlu Sadie‚ Malcolm Marx (captain)‚ Dylan Smith. Substitutes: Jan-Henning Campher‚ Nathan McBeth‚ Johannes Jonker‚ Reinhard Nothnagel‚ Marnus Schoeman‚ Dillon Smit‚ Wandisele Simelane‚ Courtnall Skosan.

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