As Edinburgh looms, the Lions persevere with successful combinations

As Edinburgh looms, the Lions persevere with successful combinations

Ivan van Rooyen has named an almost identical squad to play Edinburgh on Friday in the Lions’ last United Rugby Championship encounter of the year.

Johannesburg – The Lions are slowly but surely forming new and intriguing combinations, as coach Ivan van Rooyen and his selection committee have once again opted for consistency in matchday selection, banking on the growing momentum of a core group of players.

Van Rooyen has chosen an almost identical lineup to play Edinburgh on Friday in their last United Rugby Championship encounter of the year. Edwill van der Merwe, who suffered a concussion in last week’s triumph against Cardiff, is ineligible for the match against the Scottish franchise due to his inability to recover in time.

On the wing, he will be replaced by the abrasive and stocky Stean Pienaar. The only other change to the starting XV is a rotational one, with the powerful Ruan Venter replacing the similarly excellent Emmanuel Tshituka on the blindside of the scrum.

 

Aside from that, the Lions have the benefit of consistency, which is beginning to form a cohesive unit. Gianni Lombard and Sanele Nohamba, as well as Henco van Wyk and last week’s man of the match, Marius Louw, are given another opportunity to develop their combination.

Up front, skipper Reinhard Nothnagel and Pieter Jansen van Vuren have comparable opportunities, as do Ruan Dreyer, PJ Botha, and Sti Sithole in the front row. Botha, in particular, is developing a respectable connection with his locks; the 24-year-old connected with his targets at lineout time with a 93% success rate last week, the greatest success percentage for that particular matchday.

The match at Edinburgh Rugby Stadium will be the most difficult of the Lions’ tour. Edinburgh have lost only one of their last eight league matches at Murrayfield and have scored 14 tries so far this season, making them the most prolific try-scorers. In addition, they will be desperate to return to winning ways following two recent losses in South Africa.

The Lions’ defence, which probably won them the game against Cardiff, will once again be put under enormous pressure on a forecasted wet and cold evening, and the Springboks will have to up their efforts in defence and attack if they are to challenge another internationally-laden team.

Lions Starting XV: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Stean Pienaar, 13 Henco van Wyk, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Quan Horn, 10 Gianni Lombard, 9 Sanele Nohamba, Eight Franck Horn, 7 Ruan Venter, 6 Sibusiso Sangweni, 5 Reinhard Nothnagel (capt), 4 Pieter Jansen van Vuren, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 PJ Botha, 1 Sti Sithole

Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 JP Smith, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Emmanuel Tshituka, 20 Ruhan Straeuli, 21 Morne van den Berg, 22 Jordan Hendrikse, 23 Zander du Plessis

@FreemanZAR

»As Edinburgh looms, the Lions persevere with successful combinations«

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