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PREVIEW: Blues v Lions

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Friday, May 13, 2016    allblacks.com    Getty Images

ROUND 12: Blues v Lions, Sunday 15 May, 5.10am (NZT), Ellis Park, Johannesburg

TALE OF THE TAPE
Despite big losses to the Hurricanes and Highlanders, the Lions have been impressive this season and remain one of the top South African Investec Super Rugby hopes. The Blues have racked up five wins from nine matches but find themselves at the bottom of the NZ conference. A loss will all but end the Blues playoff hopes, while a win for the Lions could put them top of the South African group.

COMPLEMENTING HALFBACKS
In Bryn Hall and Billy Guyton, the Blues offer two halfbacks with completely different games. Regular starter Hall is a crisp distributor and fast around the park. Impact man Guyton is a strong ball runner and capable of moments of magic as seen last week against the Kings. Together they form a formidable duo and will most likely share minutes again in the Ellis Park cauldron.
LOOSE FORWARD CLASH
Two power-packed loose forward trios clash in an epic encounter. The Blues boast the explosive combination of Jerome Kaino, Steven Luatua and Taneru Latimer. The Lions respond with the imposing Warren Whiteley at number eight, Jaco Kriel at blindside and Warwick Tecklenburg at openside. With both combinations playing a game based on power, expect big defence around the park and a volatile showdown at the breakdown.

PROLIFIC POINT SCORERS

Only Beauden Barrett and Damien McKenzie stand ahead of Lions first-five Elton Jantijies and Ihaia West on the Super Rugby point scoring chart. The pint-sized Jantjies has racked up 111 points this season from nine appearances while West is just one point back on 110 points. But it’s not just with the boot that these two players are dangerous, both are playmaking first-fives who will look to ignite their backlines in this clash. 

TEAMS:
Blues: 15: Lolagi Visinia 14: Melani Nanai 13: George Moala 12: Piers Francis 11: Tevita Li 10: Ihaia West 9: Bryn Hall 8: Steven Luatua 7: Taneru Latimer 6: Jerome Kaino 5: Hoani Matenga 4: Patrick Tuipulotu 3: Charlie Faumuina 2: James Parsons 1: Sam Prattley
Reserves: Quentin McDonald, Nic Mayhew, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Kara Pryor, Joe Edwards, Billy Guyton, Matt McGahan, Male Sa’u

Lions:
15: Jaco van der Walt 14: Ruan Combrinck 13: Lionel Mapoe 12: Janse van Renseburg 11: Courtnall Skosan 10: Elton Jantjies 9: Ross Cronje 8: Warren Whiteley 7: Warwick Tecklenburg 6: Jaco Kriel 5: Franco Mostert 4: Andries Ferreira 3: Julian Redelinghuys 2: Malcolm Marx 1: Dylan Smith
Reserves: Armand van der Merwe, Come Fourie, Jacques Van Rooyen, Ruan Ackermann, Cyle Brink, Francois de Klerk, Howard Mnisi, Sylvian Mahuza