Lions must bare fangs to repel Rebels

It is round five of Super Rugby and rugby writer Jacques van der Westhuyzen picks five Lions players who must help tame the Rebels from Melbourne at Ellis Park today (3pm).

Wandisile Simelane

The rookie centre enjoyed a memorable first start last week by being named Man of the Match.

He dazzled with his foot work, handling skills and pace, but he will have to do it all again today.

And one could argue it’s a far tougher test awaiting the talented youngster … from having to keep an eye out for the slick distribution skills of Rebels No10 Quade Cooper, to having to keep in check the powerful runners out wide.

Simelane’s attacking skills are well known and he’s sure to again ask plenty of his opponents, but his ability to halt the Rebels’ attack could prove to be a far more important task today.

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Wandisile Simelane was great against the Jaguares last week. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Elton Jantjies

His showdown with Cooper promises to be one of the major highlights of what should be a fast-paced, attacking game.

Jantjies was in good form last week – he varied his game well, kicked accurately and seemed to be full of confidence.

And today he will need all of that against Cooper and the on-song Rebels, who’re also a confident bunch at the moment, having won three from three so far.

Again, it’ll be the flyhalf’s stopping ability when his opponents run hard at him, rather than what he does with ball in hand, that could determine whether the Lions come out on top or not.

Vincent Tshituka

He came into the starting side last week and looked as if he’d been playing Super Rugby for years.

Tshituka enjoyed a good debut – he made plenty of tackles and carried the ball strongly; things he will have to do against a Rebels side packed with powerhouse players.

He may be the youngster in the back row but it’ll be up to the former Northcliff High pupil to take charge of halting the surges of men like Brad Wilkin, Luke Jones, Adam Coleman and Ross Haylett-Petty. If Tshituka can reproduce his form of last week it’ll go a long way in helping the Lions get on top up front.

Marvin Orie

The 26-year-old lock is probably the man who’ll have most eyes on him today.

He was massive in his team’s first two outings this year – winning line-out ball and tackling like Franco Mostert – but then injury struck, forcing him to miss the last two games.

He’ll be champing at the bit to get stuck in again today, so expect a big showing.

His experience and leadership will be crucial, but so too, of course, his line-out jumping and work-rate around the field.

He’s also expected to play a key role in helping his side to stop the driving maul, something the Rebels are likely to use whenever they can today.

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Marvin Orie has made a impact in the team this since the start of the season. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Gianni Lombard

The Lions were the superior team for the best part of last week’s match against the Jaguares, but conceded four tries while scoring nothing themselves in the final 25 minutes.

They went to sleep when the replacements were sent into action by coach Swys de Bruin and didn’t know how to close out the game.

It is hoped they learnt from the experience, which, had they not built such a big lead, would have cost them dearly.

To this end, back-up No10 Lombard has the huge responsibility of properly taking charge if and when he is sent on by his coaching team.

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Gianni Lombard will need to make sure his kicking is accurate. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Referee: Egon Seconds

Lions: Tyrone Green, Ruan Combrinck, Wandisile Simelane, Franco Naudé, Courtnall Skosan, Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronjé, Kwagga Smith, Vincent Tshituka, Marnus Schoeman, Stephan Lewies, Marvin Orie, Carlu Sadie, Malcolm Marx, Dylan Smith. 

Replacements: Jan-Henning Campher, Sti Sithole, Frans van Wyk, Rhyno Herbst, Ruan Vermaak, Gianni Lombard, Lionel Mapoe, Andries Coetzee


Independent on Saturday

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