URC – Emirates Lions Face A Huge Task Against Log-leaders Leinster


The Emirates Lions face a huge task against log-leaders Leinster on Saturday at 15:00 (SA Time), who have only suffered two defeats in the tournament this season to seven by the Johannesburgers, and they will be on a high after qualifying for the Investec Champions Cup semi-final last week.

The visitors’ confidence will be bolstered by the fact that they are the best overall defensive team in the competition with 220 points conceded in their 13 matches, while they also rate as the second-best attacking team with 415 points to the Emirates Lions’ 367.

Making Leinster an even bigger threat, they come off four successive Vodacom URC victories while they are also comfortable on the road with five away wins in the bag so far.

The Emirates Lions suffered a narrow 39-36 defeat in a thriller of a match against Leinster last season in Johannesburg – a result that will undoubtedly motivate them to shrug off the underdog tag. Their determination to finish in the top eight with a quarter-final spot within reach will also certainly fuel their motivation.

Ahead of Leinster, former Springbok centre and now Emirates Lions defence guru Jaque Fourie says being back home after three weeks on the road is an opportunity for players and management to reset and focus on the upcoming task.

“We were disappointing against Ospreys and Benetton but we are back home now and we needed to reset ourselves. There are no second chances and making the top eight is non-negotiable.

“To do that we need to win all our home games and we need consistency – in terms of how we want to play and what our brand is – we need to get that right every week.

Fourie went on to say that his side are not really concerned about which side Leinster fields on the day amid speculation that the Irish outfit travelled to South Africa with their second stringers.

“They will be well prepared and whichever team they field will be a big challenge for us,” he said.

“If you have a look at the game we played last season, I think with 10 minutes to go we were still ahead and the second-string guys that they brought just came back and won that game,” said Fourie.

“They have such good depth in their squad, so it doesn’t matter what team they bring. Most of their second-string guys would walk into any other first team in this competition. So the squad they have got is really strong,” concluded.

In team news, try machine Francke Horn runs out for the fiftieth time for his franchise in international competitions and will have fond memories from last season’s clash where he had an immense solo performance.

Upfront, Morgan Naude gets a start with Springbok Ruan Dreyer occupying the tighthead spot. Asenathi Ntlabakanye returns from suspension to provide cover in the front row. Elsewhere, Sibusiso Sangweni returns to the Match 23 as cover for Hanru Sirgel who is recovering from a concussion. Centre Henco van Wyk returns from injury and takes a spot as one of the backline impact players alongside Jordan Hendrikse and Nico Steyn.

The Leinster Rugby team to take on the Emirates Lions has been named by head coach, Leo Cullen.

Ciarán Frawley starts again at full-back this week, with Rob Russell on the right wing and Andrew Osborne on the left. In the centre, Liam Turner starts in the number 12 jersey, and it’s a welcome return from injury for Charlie Ngatai who has recovered from a long-standing calf injury. He last played against Sale Sharks in December.

Luke McGrath and Harry Byrne are the half-backs selected by Cullen. In the pack, it’s a front row of Cian Healy, Lee Barron and Thomas Clarkson, with Brian Deeny and Jason Jenkins in the second row behind them.

Diarmuid Mangan, making his first start for Leinster, captain Scott Penny and Max Deegan complete the Leinster starting XV. There is also a welcome return from injury on the bench for Cormac Foley. ​​


Emirates Lions: 15 Quan Horn, 14 Richard Kriel, 13 Erich Cronje, 12 Marius Louw (c), 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Sanele Nohamba, 9 Morné van den Berg, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Emmanuel Tshituka, 6 JC Pretorius, 5 Ruan Delport, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 PJ Botha, 1 Morgan Naudé. Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 JP Smith, 18 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 19 Reinhard Nothnagel, 20 Sibusiso Sangweni, 21 Nico Steyn, 22 Jordan Hendrikse, 23 Henco van Wyk.

Leinster: 15 Ciarán Frawley, 14 Rob Russell, 13 Liam Turner, 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 Andrew Osborne, 10 Harry Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Max Deegan, 7 Scott Penny (c), 6 Diarmuid Mangan, 5 Jason Jenkins, 4 Brian Deeny, 3 Thomas Clarkson, 2 Lee Barron, 1 Cian Healy. Replacements: 16 John McKee, 17 Michael Milne, 18 Michael Ala’alatoa, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Cormac Foley, 22 San Prendergast, 23 Ben Brownlee.