Both teams go into the game tonight with their season’s well and truly in the shitter. Despite some valiant losing performances, and an upset win to each, there has been precious little for them to crow about.
While this game may be the ultimate ‘dance of the desperates’, it does have some un-wanted significance. With the Cheetahs boil-over win last week and a string of home games to come, the loser tonight will no doubt become the front-runner to collect this season’s wooden spoon.
The Lions are three games in to their brutal month long road trip and their side has been deprived of three its most proven performers, Jaque Fourie, Louis Ludik and Cobus Grobbelaar, through injury.
Like the Reds, the Lions have been little more than nuisance value this year and given their current situation certainly look ripe for the picking with all indicators point to a royal pantsing tonight.
The Reds once again displayed their willingness to chase a lost cause last week with a stunning comeback against the Clan.The Reds never really threatened a win mind you, but at least made sure the Highlanders had to play out the entire match.
This has been the perennial problem with the Reds. They are all too willing to concede points and play school-boy rugby, then, when seemingly all hope is lost, display some tactical nous and come home with a withering burst.
Reds’ Coach, Phil Mooney, has once again shuffled the deckchairs by promoting Adam Byrnes to the starting side with Madness moving to the side of the scrum, forcing Scott Higginbotham to the reserves. Will Genia is back as starting half-back after doing porridge for a late spear tackle, and Ben Lucas comes onto the bench, replacing the more than adequate, Brendan McKibbin.
The move to beef up the Reds’ pack will come at the expense of mobility which has blighted the Reds this year, the only saving grace is that Lions have a similar deficit in pace.
The Reds come back last weekshowed the team was more inclined to play a direct style of rugby with the forwards taking on more of bash and barge roll then allowing the backs some room when on the front foot.
It worked well and looked good with the Reds combining the best of their back play with some decent structure. Despite this, there was still the usual amount of dropped ball as the Reds continue to push the glory pass rather than the ball-carrier going to ground and the back-row taking responsibility for securing the ball.
Tonight’s game looks likely to be the last chance either team will have of a victory this season with both facing a pretty tough draw for the remaining weeks. This will serve as motivation for an otherwise pointless game.
It appears that rather than either team looking like they will win this game, the Lions look more likely to lose it so I guess that means the Reds should win – the Reds might well win, but I don’t think it will feel like a victory.
Cote says – Reds by 10