Chiefs v Lions preview




Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, 19.35 (06.35 GMT)

Lions coach Eugene Eloff has spoken a lot this week about his team’s need to step it up in the physical department, especially at the breakdown and contact situation.

After their almost apologetic approach to last week’s encounter with the Blues – tactics that saw them being on the wrong end of a 41-14 drubbing – the young Lion cubs will need to become roaring beasts if they hope to achieve their stated intention of an unprecedented third win on tour in Australasia.

While the Blues are undoubtedly the form team of the tournament and the Chiefs have yet to win a game (they have a draw in Week Five against the Cheetahs as their only “success”), there is little doubt that the Chiefs are a far more physical team than the Blues.

Where the Lions were beaten for pace and skill in Auckland last week, they will be faced with a far more direct approach in Hamilton on Friday.

That is also why Eloff tweaked his backline somewhat – brining Jaco Pretorius off the wing and in at inside centre – to counter the inclusion of Tasesa Lavea in the number 12 jersey for the Chiefs.

With lock Cobus Grobler struggling with an injury Eloff also opted for the physical presence of Willem Alberts in the second row.

“We need his extra bulk in the pack, because I expect the Chiefs to take us on physically up front,” Eloff said.

But the most telling factor could be the weather.

The Lions’ plans to outsmart the Chiefs, rather than meet them head-on, could be thwarted by the cold snap that has hit the region this week.

Rain and Westerly winds have moved in over Hamilton and wet weather could make it difficult for the Lions to play their expansive game and will certainly play into the hands of the Chiefs, who prefer a more direct approach.

It will also means the role of the two fly-halves – Stephen Donald (Chiefs) and Andr’ Pretorius (Lions) will be more profound.

Prediction: The Lions have looked impressive all season, with the exception of last week’s blowout against the Blues. The Chiefs have made steady progress and are overdue for a win. The big question is whether the Lions will bounce back. We feel the Lions will be competitive, but the Chiefs will do enough to sneak it. The Chiefs by 10 points or less.


Chiefs: 15 Dwayne Sweeney, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Tane Tu’ipulotu, 12 Tasesa Lavea, 11 Roy Kinikinilau, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Marty Holah, 6 Sione Lauaki, 5 Keith Robinson, 4 Kristian Ormsby, 3 Nathan White, 2 Tom Willis (c), 1 Simms Davison
Replacements: 16 Aled de Malmanche, 17 Ben Castle, 18 Toby Lynn, 19 Tanerau Latimer, 20 Jamie Nutbrown, 21 Niva Ta’auso, 22 Jared Payne.

Lions: 15 Jaco van Schalkwyk, 14 Louis Ludik, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jaco Pretorius, 11 Wylie Human, 10 Andr’ Pretorius (c), 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Jacques Cronj’, 7 Ernst Joubert, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Anton van Zyl, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Bertus Smit, 18 Gordon Gilfillan, 19 Franco van der Merwe, 20 Enrico Januarie, 21 Louis Strydom, 22 Jannie Boshoff.

Referee: James Leckie (Australia)
Touch judges: George Ayoub (Australia) Kelvin Deaker (New Zealand)
Television match official: Jonothan White (New Zealand)
Assessor: Alan Riley (New Zealand), Dennis Immelman (South Africa)

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