Who will bite first?

2014-10-17 00:00

IT is all systems go for the Currie Cup semi-final between the Lions and Sharks at Ellis Park tomorrow.

Both teams have named relatively unchanged sides from last weekend’s final round-robin stage. For the Sharks, only hooker Kyle Cooper returns after an ankle niggle. The Lions’ starting XV remains unchanged, while Kwagga Smith is on the bench after a weekend away with the Blitsbokke.

“We’ve got some consistency … picked up no injuries against Province and had a great second half so we’re happy. Kyle missed out on the Province trip, but he’s had a great season,” said Sharks coach Brad Macleod-Henderson.

There is a potentially spicy battle between flyhalves Lionel Cronje and Lions pivot Marnitz Boshoff. Both are in good form although their styles differ.

While Cronje is a strong attacking flyhalf testing the defensive line, Boshoff is more tactical and likes the boot.

“Lionel has had a fantastic Currie Cup. He started on the bench, didn’t get many opportunities, but when he did, he grabbed it with both hands. He’s helped our attack because he threatens the gain line. Defensively he’s been strong; kicks goals and kicks the ball a long way,” the coach said.

Macleod-Henderson said Boshoff would have a crucial role in orchestrating the Lions’ play and his charges must be well-disciplined to stop Boshoff’s deadly goal-kicking boot.

“Boshoff is a Springbok and quality player … he’s a more mature head, [giving] them guidance and direction. We have to be on top of our game,” Macleod-Henderson said.

Action will happen upfront with the Lions’ scrum rated one of the best. Sharks captain Tera Mtembu said his forwards have prepared as well as possible.

While there is a possibility of a Durban home final, he insisted his side only have eyes on this weekend’s clash.

“There’s always pressure … it’s about taking opportunities and executing well. Both teams want to get to the final, but the [one executing] best, will win.”

The Sharks face the Lions at 2.30 pm tomorrow. The team includes:

SP Marais, Tonderai Chavhanga, S’bura Sithole, Andre Esterhuizen, Lwazi Mvovo, Lionel Cronje, Cobus Reinach, Tera Mtembu (c), Etienne Oosthuizen, Jacques Botes, Marco Wentzel, Stephan Lewies, Matt Stevens, Kyle Cooper, Thomas du Toit.

Replacements: Monde Hadebe, Dale Chadwick, Lourens Adriaanse, JC Astle, Khaya Majola, Conrad Hoffmann, Fred Zeilinga.

Lions team (15-1): Jaco van der Walt, Ruan Combrinck, Lionel Mapoe, Howard Mnisi, Courtnall Skosan, Marnitz Boshoff, Ross Cronje, Warren Whiteley (c), Derick Minnie, Jaco Kriel, Franco Mostert, Martin Muller, Ruan Dreyer, Robbie Coetzee, Schalk van der Merwe.

Replacements: Armand van der Merwe, Julian Redelinghuys, Willie Britz, Warwick Tecklenburg, Kwagga Smith, Mark Richards, Harold Vorster.

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