PREVIEW: Highlanders v Lions

Getty Images

Thursday, May 10, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Match details: Highlanders v Lions, Forsyth Barr Stadium, May 12, 7.35pm

Played: 11
Won: Highlanders 5, Lions 6
Last time: Lions 42-Highlanders 30, Ellis Park, July 30, 2016


Both sides come into the game off losses, the Highlanders to the Sharks in Durban (12-38) and the Lions (19-28) to the Hurricanes. The Highlanders started with three wins over the Blues (41-34), the Stormers (33-15) and the Crusaders (25-17) but then lost to the Hurricanes (12-29) and the Chiefs (22-27) before another hat-trick of wins over the Brumbies (43-17), the Blues (34-16) and the Bulls (29-28). The Lions also started with three consecutive wins, over the Sharks (26-19), the Jaguares (47-27) and the Bulls (49-35). The Blues upset them (35-38). They beat the Sunwolves (40-38) but then they lost to the Jaguares (35-49) and the Crusaders (8-14). They beat the Stormers (52-31) and the Waratahs (29-0) before losing to the Reds (22-27).


The Highlanders will go into the game resting halfback Aaron Smith with Kayne Hammington starting while openside flanker Dillon Hunt is also rested with James Lentjes getting the start. Wing Tevita Nabura will make his second appearance of the season. Josh Dickson and Marino Mikaele Tu'u will get chances from the bench. The Lions have named Robbie Coetzee at hooker in place of the injured Malcolm Marx. Johannes Jonker will start at tighthead prob with Jacobie Adriaanse dropping down to the bench. Two new starting locks, Andries Ferreira and Marvin Orie have been named. Lourens Erasmus has dropped to the bench while Franco Mostert has shifted to the side of the scrum. Kyle Brink will play openside and Kwagga Smith will be at No.8.


Lions coach Swys de Bruin knows how important the game is for his side, especially with the challenge coming from other sides in South Africa. "It is true that the other teams are hauling us in, but they also have to play against each other too, and all of them still have to travel to Argentina. If we can get some log points out of the Highlanders' game, and then the Brumbies at home next week, then we will be in a strong position again," he said. The Highlanders would be tough and he wasn't buying into the fact they had returned from South Africa earlier in the week. "We showed when we won so well in our first tour game against the Waratahs that travel doesn't necessarily have to be a big factor. The Highlanders were poor against the Sharks but it is funny how often a team touring South Africa underperforms in the second week. The Highlanders are a team that is not so good away but they are very different in Dunedin, which makes the challenge bigger for us, but we are ready for it," he said.


The Highlanders have won their last 10 games in a row at home, something they have achieved only once before when winning 13 times in 2000-02. (Opta)


Highlanders: 1.Daniel Lienert-Brown, 2.Liam Coltman, 3.Tyrel Lomax, 4.Alex Ainley, 5.Tom Franklin, 6.Elliot Dixon, 7.James Lentjes, 8.Luke Whitelock, 9.Kayne Hammington, 10.Lima Sopoaga, 11.Tevita Nabura, 12.Teihorangi Walden, 13.Rob Thompson, 14.Waisake Naholo, 15.Ben Smith (captain).

Substitutes: 16.Ash Dixon (captain), 17.Aki Seiuli, 18.Kalolo Tuiloma, 19.Josh Dickson, 20.Marino Mikaele Tu'u, 21. Josh Renton, 22.Josh Ioane, 23.Sio Tomkinson.

Lions: 1.Dylan Smith, 2.Robbie Coetzee, 3.Johannes Jonker, 4.Andries Ferreira, 5.Marvin Orie, 6.Cyle Brink, 7.Franco Mostert (captain), 8.Kwagga Smith, 9.Nic Groom, 10.Elton Jantjies, 11.Aphiwe Dyanti, 12.Harold Vorster, 13.Lionel Mapoe, 14.Ruan Combrinck, 15.Andries Coetzee.

Substitutes: 16.Jacques van Rooyen, 17.Ruan Dreyer, 18.Jacobie Adriaanse, 19.Lourens Erasmus, 20.Marnus Schoeman, 21.Dillon Smit, 22.Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 23.Sylvian Mahuza.