Benetton’s visit to Ellis Park will begin in earnest at 14:00 on Saturday 30 April.
The Lions will also look to take advantage of Benetton’s disappointing track record away from home after last winning a match outside of Italy in the 2020 season, and the fact that they have only won four of their 15 matches so far in the competition.
“We’ve had a good week, the guys are really putting in the hard work,” said Emirates Lions scrum coach Julian Redelinghuys.
“It’s very important for us to stay in the process and focus on aspects we would like to improve on, not only for Saturday but in future. Benetton are a very good side. They had a pretty decent start against the Vodacom Bulls last weekend, so we’ll prepare for that leading up to Saturday.
“We’ll focus quite a bit on our decision-making come Saturday with a bigger emphasis on our structures and making sure we are accurate.”
Cardiff Rugby Director of Rugby Dai Young said: “It’s no secret that we have been disappointed with our results in recent weeks and it doesn’t get any easier going over to Munster. Facing them over in Ireland is always a big challenge and we will need to be at our best to have any chance of securing a result. We can only concentrate on ourselves, focusing on our performance and ensuring we see significant improvements in our game. It is really important that we finish this URC season as positively as possible as we continue building.”
Lions: Quan Horn, Stean Pienaar, Wandisile Simelane, Burger Odendaal (CAPT). Edwill van der Merwe, Jordan Hendrikse, Morne van den Berg. JP Smith, PJ Botha, Carlu Sadie. Ruben Schoeman, Reinhard Nothnagel. Francke Horn, Vincent Tshituka, Emmanuel Tshituka
Replacements: Jaco Visagie, Sti Sithole, Ruan Dreyer, Ruan Venter, Sibusiso Sangweni, Andre Warner, Manuel Rass, Tiaan Swanepoel
Benetton: Rhyno Smith, Edoardo Padovani, Tommaso Menoncello, Filippo Drago, Monty Ioane, Tomas Albornoz, Dewaldt Duvenage (CAPT), Thomas Gallo, Giacomo Nicotera, Simone Ferrari, Irnè Herbst, Carl Wegner, Giovanni Pettinelli, Manuel Zuliani, Lorenzo Cannone
Replacements: Hame Faiva, Ivan Nemer, Tiziano Pasquali. Federico Ruzza, Matteo Meggiato. Alessandro Garbisi, Leonardo Marin, Andries Coetzee.
The Lions have conceded fewer penalties than any other South African franchise in the inaugural URC campaign to date.
The maul has been Benetton’s great strength and their success rate of 94.12% is the league’s best.
Benetton have kicked more penalties than any other team in the Scottish/Italian Shield (21), with South African-born Rhyno Smith accounting for 9 of those.
Ivan van Rooyen’s men are South Africa’s best for turnovers won in the URC with 117. Flanker Vincent Tshituka and half back Andre Warner have won 8 apiece to share the team’s leading figures.
Tommaso Menoncello leads Benetton’s try-scorers following his brace against the Bulls at Loftus which moved him to six for the season.
This will be the Lions’ first meeting with Italian opponents since the opening game of the season when they beat Zebre Parma 38-26 in Italy.
Lions vs Benetton
Date: Saturday, 30 April
Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
SA Time: 14:00
Referee: Andrew Brace