Preview – Emirates Lions Needs Miracle Against Leinster


The Emirates Lions will be keeping a close eye on the outcome of the Cell C Sharks and Vodacom Bulls’ matches as well as the clash between Cardiff and Connacht when they host Leinster on Saturday at 16:00 (SA Time), as a surprise victory by the hosts combined with defeats for Benetton and Cardiff could see them leapfrog those teams on the table.

The Johannesburgers, however, know they have to deliver one of their best performances this season to topple the unbeaten Irish giants, whose worst result so far this season has been a draw.

The Emirates Lions, however, will bank on their home crowd and the altitude factor to give them a handy boost in the clash, but they will be wary of the fact that they have to be water-tight on defence and extremely effective on the attack to create an upset, as they are lagging behind the visitors from Dublin in terms of points scored and conceded this season.

Still in the running for a top 8 spot, the Emirates Lions would need a full house of points against Leinster and a repeated effort against Zebra Parma next weekend at Loftus.

Emirates Lions head coach, Ivan van Rooyen has made three changes to the starting lineup who did duty against Glasgow Warriors last week in the EPCR Challenge Cup QF.

Young Rhynardt Rijnsburger gets his first start of the season at loosehead prop. JP Smith covers for him on the bench. Ruan Delport slots in for the injured Ruan Venter and in the backline, Stean Pienaar comes in for Rabz Maxwane. Both Venter and Maxwane suffered head knocks in last week’s game and have been rested this week as a precaution.

Speaking about the possibility of still qualifying for the playoffs, Emirates Lions captain Marius Louw believes his team’s efforts will determine how far they’ll go in the championship.

”The mood in the camp has been great and you can see it in the way that we have been playing over the past few games, said the Lions skipper. We’re not out of the competition completely so I wouldn’t necessarily throw us off the bus just yet. In essence, we’ll do what we can, as best as we can and for as long as we can and see how that goes,” he concluded.

Rhys Ruddock will captain Leinster with Leinster Academy fly-half Sam Prendergast set to make his Leinster debut.

Chris Cosgrave starts at full-back. On the wings, Dave Kearney is set to make his 150th league appearance, while there is a welcome return for Tommy O’Brien (pictured below), who makes his first appearance of the season after recovering from a knee injury.

In the centre, Liam Turner is joined by Ben Brownlee. Ireland Under-20 fly-half Prendergast makes his debut, with Nick McCarthy partnering him at scrum-half.

In the front row, Georgia international Vakhtang Abdaladze (pictured below) is set for his first Leinster start. He will pack down with Michael Milne and Lee Barron.

Brian Deeny joins South African international Jason Jenkins in the second row, with Ruddock, Will Connors and Max Deegan forming the back row.

On the bench, five Academy players are set to feature with Alex Soroka, James Culhane, Ben Murphy, Charlie Tector and Rob Russell all looking to impress.


Emirates Lions: 15 Quan Horn, 14 Stean Pienaar, 13 Manuel Rass, 12 Marius Louw (c), 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Gianni Lombard, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Ruan Delport, 6 Jacobus Kriel, 5 Ruben Schoeman, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 2 Pieter Botha, 1 Rhynardt Rijnsburger. Replacements: 16 Morné Brandon, 17 Jean-Pierre Smith, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Darrien Landsberg, 20 Travis Gordon, 21 Morné van den Berg, 22 Rynhardt Jonker, 23 Andries Coetzee.

Leinster: 15 Chris Cosgrave, 14 Tommy O’Brien, 13 Liam Turner, 12 Ben Brownlee, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Sam Prendergast, 9 Nick McCarthy, 8 Max Deegan, 7 Will Connors, 6 Rhys Ruddock (c), 5 Jason Jenkins, 4 Brian Deeny, 3 Vakhtang Abdaladze, 2 Lee Barron, 1 Michael Milne. Replacements: 16 Tadgh McElroy, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Thomas Clarkson, 19 Alex Soroka, 20 James Culhane, 21 Ben Murphy, 22 Charlie Tector, 23 Rob Russell.