Test

Ti­tle favourites Lions will be look­ing for brag­ging rights over WP

The Independent on Saturday - - SPORT - JACQUES VAN DER WESTHUYZEN

FI­NALLY a game in the Currie Cup to get the fans ex­cited!

To­day’s show­down be­tween the Golden Lions and the visi­tors from the Cape, West­ern Prov­ince, at El­lis Park (3pm kick-off) is the first real block­buster of the com­pe­ti­tion, pit­ting two at­tack­ing teams against each other, with un­beaten records on the line.

The Lions go into the clash with a three-from-three record, hav­ing al­ready got the bet­ter of Gri­quas, Blue Bulls and Free State Chee­tahs, while WP are two-from-two after reg­is­ter­ing big wins against the Chee­tahs and Pu­mas.

It has been some­what sur­pris­ing to learn that quite a few men in the know in lo­cal rugby have in­stalled John Dob­son’s team as the favourites to go all the way this year, with Chee­tahs boss Daan Hu­man call­ing them the team to beat, while Vic­tor Mat­field said WP played a style of rugby clos­est to that dished up week in and week out by the All Blacks.

The Lions would whole­heart­edly dis­agree. It is they, after all, who have mas­tered the at­tack­ing game in South Africa by us­ing the full width of the field and not show­ing any fear in play­ing from all parts and at any time.

Ei­ther way, to­day’s match should be a cracker and give a good in­di­ca­tion of which team will be the one to beat.

Both teams are high on con­fi­dence; the Lions after de­mol­ish­ing the Chee­tahs last week, the Prov­ince boys after go­ing to Nel­spruit and show­ing up the un­til-then highly-rated Pu­mas.

In what should be good con­di­tions, ex­pect a high-speed game, with plenty of flow­ing, at­tack­ing rugby.

The Lions are back to what can be clas­si­fied as their first choice team with An­dries Coet­zee back after a week off, but it has been those on his in­side – Lionel Mapoe, Howard Mnisi and Shaun Reynolds – who have been the dan­ger-men up to now, cre­at­ing all the op­por­tu­ni­ties for the out­side play­ers, like try-hun­gry Syl­vian Mahuza.

Prov­ince will also do well to keep a close watch on Hacji­vah Day­i­mani, whose show­down with the equally tal­ented Juarno Au­gus­tus should be a high­light of the match.

Ex­cit­ing back­line play­ers SP Marais, Ruhan Nel, Sergeal Petersen and Dil­lyn Leyds are also sure to keep the Lions’ de­fence guess­ing.

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