Springbok No 8 Warren Whiteley will lead the Lions in their Super Rugby semi-final match against the Waratahs at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg on Saturday, with the Highveld side aiming for a third successive final appearance. The match kicks off at 17:05. (UAE time)
The other semi-final takes place earlier in the day (11:35 UAE time) in New Zealand between the defending champions, the Crusaders, and the Hurricanes.
Whiteley and his team mates have hit form at the most appropriate time, with the men in red and white dispatching the Bulls in their last regular season fixture and then producing an even better display last week to comfortably triumph over the powerful Jaguares team in the quarter-final.
The Lions have won their last three games against the Waratahs, including a 29-0 victory when the sides last met in March in Sydney, but they know that the New South Welshmen have improved remarkably since then.
Glen Jackson will be the man in the middle for the match in Johannesburg between the Lions and the 2014 champions from Sydney.
Simple Math: A WIN = grand final appearance, while a LOSS = the end of our run for this season.— NSW Waratahs (@NSWWaratahs) July 27, 2018
GM of Rugby Tim Rapp takes you to the Ellis park in this episode of The Road to the FInals!#LIOvWAR#fortheloveofrugby 💙🏉 pic.twitter.com/PYmNA7Qasa
Lions coach Swys de Bruin has made one change to the team that beat the Jaguares at home last weekend.
Lourens Erasmus replaces Cyle Brink, who could not recover in time from his right arm injury sustained against the Argentineans. Harold Vorster (centre) is set to play in his 50thVodacom Super Rugby game.
Meanwhile, the selection of hooker Tolu Latu is the only change to the Waratahs starting line-up for Saturday’s big clash.
Latu will make his first start of the season, replacing Damien Fitzpatrick, who is now playing off the bench, while winger Taqele Naiyaravoro makes his 50th appearance.
What they said:
Lions skipper Warren Whiteley has cautioned his side about the Waratahs strengths: “We know the Waratahs have lots of attacking threats and will kick tactically because they’ll most likely be aiming to keep the ball in play, so we’ll need to be switched on defensively.”
Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson said he expects a very physical encounter against from the Highvelders: “We learnt a great deal from the last time we played them when they won easily, and when their strengths led them to victory.”
Head to head:
Lions won: 4
Waratahs won: 7
Lions points: 247
Waratahs points: 349
Average score: Lions 22-32 NSW
#LIOvWAR | As we count down the last hours before the big Vodacom Super Rugby Semi-final, here is an interesting head to head of the two scrummies, @rosscronje9 and Nick Phipps.#LetsUnite pic.twitter.com/KPumZQGbrG— Emirates Lions (@LionsRugbyCo) July 27, 2018
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Lourens Erasmus, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Marvin Orie, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen. Replacements: 16 Corne Fourie, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Hacjivah Dayimani, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21 Dillon Smit, 22 Courtnall Skosan, 23 Howard Mnisi.
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Alex Newsome, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 10 Bernard Foley (captain), 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Will Miller, 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Jed Holloway, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Tom Robertson. Replacements: 16 Damien Fitzpatrick, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Brad Wilkin, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Cam Clark.
Date: Saturday July 28
SA time: 17:05 (UAE time)
Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
Referee: Glen Jackson (NZ)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen and Rasta Rasivhenge (SA)
Television match official: Marius Jonker (SA)
TV: OSN Action HD4
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