ACT Brumbies

Preview: Lions v Brumbies

Preview: Lions v Brumbies

Nic White of the Brumbies passes from the scrum.© Barry Aldworth/BackpagepixThe Lions host the Brumbies at 01:05am this Sunday (Saturday night [5:05pm local]) in what will be a very good reason to stay up. The Lions have an extra win (7-5) but trail the Brumbies on the ladder due to the Brumbies (6-6) leading the tournament in bonus points. This is another crucial game in terms of who will make the finals for super rugby 2015.

Teams

For the Lions Muller and Kruger have been moved into the forward pack. Jantjies and de Klerk both get starts, making a new halves combination from last week. Mapoe is also back from injury and is starting on the right wing moving Combrinck to the left.

For the Brumbies Alaalatoa gets a start and Toomua is back from injury and starting at inside centre.

Key Match-ups

Lions Scrum v Brumbies’ Scrum

To put it politely, the Brumbies’ scrum was dominated last week against the superior Stormers’. Even though they got close to a win, they shouldn’t have, the stormers should have just knocked on anywhere on the park, won a penalty and repeated until they were in kick-able distance. The Brumbies this week will face a lions pack that isn’t as highly regarded as the stormers, but the confidence hit the Brumbies took last week, as well as the perceived weakness in the referee’s mind, may have lasting effects on this set piece. Scrums are always important in rugby but with such classy back-lines somewhat under utilised, clean ball is going to be even more important to pull away from the opposition on the scoreboard.

altitude does funny things to animals

the Lions will be hoping for Stormer-like domination of the Brumbies’ Scrum

Kriel v Pocock

It seems every week Pocock is going head to head with another worthy foe. This week he’s up against Jaco Kriel who has been in red hot form with a staggering eight pilfers and another three turnovers forced last week against the highlanders. Pocock’s best was against the blues with four pilfers and nine turnovers forced, but has been a far more consistent menace at the breakdowns: in the eight games (three less than Kriel) he’s played this year, he has 16 pilfers (same as Kriel) and 30 turnovers forced (double Kriel). Kriel has the advantage this week of sharing a common first name with this weeks adjudicator of the breakdown.

Kriel and Pocock battling for that crown.

Kriel and Pocock both on their feet and through the gate, trying to get that crown.

Jantjies v Lealiifano

The enigmatic Elton Jantjies is going head to head with Christian Lealiifano. Both players are quite similar in their abilities and mix up their passing running and linking plays. Lealiifano is more likely to underplay his hand on the first phase this week with a more direct runner in Toomua outside him. He will then use the second phase back line play to try and get more involvement from his speedy outside backs. Lealiifano will also be looking to get over an easy missed conversion that retrospectively would have changed the result last week, he’ll be hoping for an easy early penalty shot. Jantjies is more in the Cooper/Carlos Spencer mould and is more likely to try and turn it on immediately to set up the flyers on the fringes. Almost a year to the date Jantjies put the much more fancied Bulls to the sword with the effort in the video below, one of my favourite passes of all time.

Prediction

An away win at altitude is always going to be difficult. But the Brumbies forwards will be keen to write the wrongs of their failure in the scrum last week, they will also want to tidy up their attacking rucks as well as maintain their recent defensive improvement. Couple that with the inclusion of Toomua at twelve and the balance that brings to the initial direct first phase, which earns the Brumbies the space to go wide and I think the Brumbies will get up, with a bonus point.

Lions v Brumbies

Schalk van der Merwe1Allan Alaalatoa
Robbie Coetzee2Stephen Moore
Julian Redelinghuys3Ben Alexander
Martin Muller 4Sam Carter
Franco Mostert5Rory Arnold
Jaco Kriel 6Scott Fardy
Robert Kruger7David Pocock
Warren Whiteley8Ita Vaea
Faf de Klerk9Nic White
Elton Jantjies10Christian Lealiifano
Ruan Combrinck 11Joseph Tomane
Alwyn Hollenbach12Matt Toomua
Harold Vorster13Tevita Kuridrani
Lionel Mapoe14Henry Speight
Andries Coetzee15Jesse Mogg
Reserves
Armand van der Merwe16Josh Mann-Rea
Jacques van Rooyen17Jean-Pierre Smith
Ruan Dreyer18Ruan Smith
MB Lusaseni19Jordan Smiler
Warwick Tecklenburg20Jarrad Butler
Ross Cronje21Michael Dowsett
Jaco van der Walt22Robbie Coleman
Howard Mnisi 23James Dargaville
Location: Emirates Airlines Park, Johannesburg
Kickoff:Sun 17 May 1:05
Referee:Jaco Peyper
Assistant Ref 1:Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Ref 2:Stephan Geldenhuys
TMO :Johan Greeff
ACT Brumbies

Brumbies supporter now living in Melbourne. Rugby and Larkham fan ever since he de beered de Beer. Never shy of controversy because when I say it it's cute.

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