Ki­wis sim­ply know how to Cane the Li­ons

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

WANT to know the enor­mity of the task await­ing the Li­ons in to­mor­row’s Su­per Rugby semi-fi­nal at El­lis Park? Well, the last time a Li­ons team beat the Hur­ri­canes was 10 years ago when Tana Umaga was still wear­ing the Canes No 13 on his back.

That’s the mag­ni­tude of the job, plain and sim­ple. But it gets worse.

The last time a South African Su­per Rugby team beat the Hur­ri­canes was a whopping three years ago, in 2014.

Yip, no South African team has beaten the Hur­ri­canes in 14 matches. It’s un­der­stand­able then that the vis­i­tors from Welling­ton, who downed the Li­ons in the fi­nal last year, are the favourites to win through to the fi­nal – even though they’re play­ing away from home to­mor­row.

Con­sider the fol­low­ing for a sec­ond or two: The last time the Li­ons beat the men in the gold and black jumpers Umaga and Con­rad Smith were the cen­tres for the Canes, Piri Weepu was at scrumhalf and two of the loose-for­wards were Rod­ney So’oialo and Jerry Collins, who sadly is no longer with us.

Turn­ing out for the Li­ons that day were, among others, An­dre Pre­to­rius, who cap­tained the team, Jaco Pre­to­rius and Jaque Fourie, who were the cen­tres, and Ricky Jan­uarie.

The Li­ons won that match con­vinc­ingly 30-7, on March 24, 2007.

Fly­half Pre­to­rius was the big star, kick­ing one con­ver­sion, one drop-goal and five penal­ties, while Fourie and hooker Eti­enne Rey­necke scored the Li­ons’ two tries.

The teams’ next eight meet­ings though, since that Li­ons win in 2007, have all gone the way of the Hur­ri­canes, in­clud­ing last year’s 50-17 win at El­lis Park and the 20-3 tri­umph in the fi­nal in Welling­ton. Wor­ry­ingly for the Li­ons, their record be­fore 2007 against their op­po­nents this week­end is just as bad.

Since split­ting from the Cats in 2002 the teams have met 14 times in to­tal, with the only win be­ing that vic­tory in 2007.

The Li­ons have scored 420 points against the Canes, who’ve scored 540, with the av­er­age score be­ing 30-23 in favour of the Hur­ri­canes.

But it’s not only the Li­ons of the South African franchises who have strug­gled against Umaga’s old team. Wor­ry­ingly for the Li­ons, the Canes have, in fact, not lost to a South African side since Fe­bru­ary 28, 2014 – that’s in 14 matches that they have come up trumps against all-com­ers from South Africa.

On that day they lost 19-18 to the Storm­ers at New­lands, but then beat the Chee­tahs (home) 60-27 and Bulls (home) 25-20 and fol­lowed up those vic­to­ries with wins in 2015 against the Sharks (home) 32-24, the Storm­ers (home) 25-20, the Bulls (away) 17-13, and the Li­ons (away) 22-8.

In 2016, they beat the Kings (home) 42-20, the Li­ons (away) 50-17, the Sharks (home) 41-0 and the Li­ons again (home in the fi­nal) 20-3.

This year they have beaten the Bulls (away) 34-20, the Chee­tahs (home) 61-7, and the Storm­ers (home) 41-22.

As de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons and with a record like that against the South African teams it’s dif­fi­cult to find any valid rea­sons why the Li­ons should be re­garded as favourites to­mor­row. –

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