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
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
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
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.
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 ...
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.
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.