SOWETO GIANTS RE­SUME THEIR RI­VALRY

It prom­ises to be a high-oc­tane af­fair when the Li­ons host the Hur­ri­canes in a Su­per Rugby semi-fi­nal match at El­lis Park to­mor­row. Here, rugby writer JAC­QUES VAN DER WESTHUYZEN high­lights the men who could light up the con­test and po­ten­tially be their te

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RUANCOMBRINCK

The 27-year-old wing is back in busi­ness big­time since re­turn­ing from in­jury a few weeks ago. He scored a dou­ble against the Bulls on his re­turn and since then has added a fur­ther three five-point­ers. He’s a whole­hearted player who gives the Li­ons plenty of X-fac­tor out wide, his big strength be­ing his power and step. He’s got plenty more than that

LIONELMAPOE

You just don’t get more sound than the Li­ons No 13. Mapoe has been a rock in the mid­field for some time now and has been one his team’s bright­est stars again this sea­son. At 29, he’s been around a bit and knows what is needed to be suc­cess­ful in Su­per Rugby … and what a chal­lenge awaits him and Harold Vorster who are com­ing up against ar­guably the best mid­field pair­ing in the com­pe­ti­tion, in Ngani Laumape and Vince Aso. Mapoe ranks favourably in most of the at­tack stats such as tackle breaks (sixth), line­breaks and

JACOKRIEL

One can use a num­ber of dif­fer­ent words to de­scribe the Li­ons open­side flanker and stand-in skip­per, but “ma­chine” prob­a­bly suits him best. He’s strong, does what is ex­pected of him and runs fast and with­out fail; he’s de­pend­able ba­si­cally … very de­pend­able in fact. With eight tries be­hind his name, he’s a man the Hur­ri­canes will want to keep an eye on, but keep­ing him in check is eas­ier said than done. Kriel is at his most dan­ger­ous out wide, run­ning the touch­line and col­lect­ing kick­passes from his No 10. He also makes his fair share of line­breaks and tackle breaks … gen­er­ally just a real star. though, in­clud­ing his abil­ity to kick with both feet and at goal; last week­end’s 55m match-win­ner against the Sharks proof of his big match tem­per­a­ment. He’s a player who thrives on the big stage and it hardly gets big­ger than this. off­loads and will hope to de­liver an­other solid show­ing against qual­ity op­po­si­tion.

JORDIEBARRETT

If it’s not Beau­den do­ing the dam­age to the op­po­si­tion it’s ei­ther Scott or Jordie … and to­mor­row it’s Beaden and Jordie who the Li­ons have to face. If they win and the Cru­saders beat the Chiefs then they’ll be up against Scott next week in the fi­nal. Young Jordie, who is just 20 years old, has been sen­sa­tional this sea­son, be it at full­back or cen­tre … he just has ev­ery­thing go­ing for him – he’s quick, he’s strong and he’s a points scorer of note. It doesn’t mat­ter where he pops up in the back­line to­mor­row, the Li­ons will have to keep a close watch on his ev­ery move. And then there’s his ac­cu­rate goal­kick­ing ...

ARDIESAVEA

What is it with all these sets of broth­ers in the Hur­ri­canes team? If it’s not the Bar­rett’s it’s the Saveas, Ju­lian and Ardie. While wing Ju­lian will al­ways be a threat out wide, it’s younger brother Ardie who may ask more ques­tions up front to­mor­row. The 23-year-old flanker has en­joyed a stun­ning rise in the last three years, be­com­ing a star All Black and key mem­ber of his Canes team. He’s a strong all-round player who wins his fair share of turn-over ball, but he also car­ries strongly and puts in the big hits. Hav­ing faced the Du Preez twins last week, the Li­ons will know what to ex­pect.

NGANI LAUMAPE

The 24-year-old has en­joyed a fab­u­lous sea­son, which has seen him be­ing se­lected to the All Blacks squad, too, for the se­ries against the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Li­ons. He’s a real pow­er­house mid­fielder who, with cen­tre team­mate Vince Aso, has carved up de­fences this year. Both men have scored 14 tries, for the best re­turn in the com­pe­ti­tion. For a num­ber of me­tres he’s car­ried the ball and for line­breaks and tackle breaks, Laumape fea­tures in the top 10, an in­di­ca­tion of just how lethal he’s been in 2017. He’ll run hard and straight at the Li­ons backs, a test they’ve not been sub­jected to this year.

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