British & Irish Lions

Sharks could be spared voracious back Josh Adams in Lions rematch

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Josh Adams of British and Irish Lions in full flight with the ball.
Josh Adams of British and Irish Lions in full flight with the ball.
Josh Adams of British and Irish Lions in full flig
  • Two-time Lions tour hat-trick hero Josh Adams could be due a rest this weekend, a slight reprieve for the Sharks.
  • The Lions face the Sharks again on Saturday (18:00) at Loftus following the Bulls tour game postponement.
  • Wings Duhan van der Merwe and Louis Rees-Zammit also felt tightness in Wednesday’s 54-7 victory.

The Sharks could be spared more pain on Saturday of coming up against voracious British and Irish Lions outside back Josh Adams, who scored a hat-trick against them in the first encounter on Wednesday.

Since arriving in South Africa, Adams has scored seven tries in two outings, including four against Johannesburg's Lions last weekend.

Lions coach Warren Gatland counted the minutes his boys played in the three matches since assembling to face Japan in Edinburgh and travelling south.

READ | Jaden Hendrikse impresses against Lions: 'It's a matter of when not if he'll be an international'

Adams tops the charts, having played 240 minutes, while scrum-half Ali Price, wingers Duhan van der Merwe and Louis Rees-Zammit are all on 160.

The Lions also finished Wednesday's 54-7 defeat of the Sharks with 13 men after Van der Merwe, and Rees-Zammit felt muscular rightness.

"They're not injuries. Their hamstrings were tightening up, and the game was won, so we just took a precautionary decision to take them off," said Gatland.

"There was no need to risk them. They had done a lot of running in the game. I mean, Duhan scored three tries, and Louis had got on the scoresheet as well.

"There was no point in risking those players who had given us everything that they had.

"Someone like Josh Adams has fronted up for three games in a row, so he's a player we probably need to rest."

Saturday's rematch at Loftus (18:00) was a late change to the Lions tour schedule after a Covid outbreak forced their game with the Bulls to be postponed.

Wednesday's game was also a close call after a Lions management staffer tested positive, resulting in several players getting isolated as they were close contacts.

READ | Lions hold firm on tour being held in SA: 'We can't just hop on a plane to Britain'

Gatland fielded a rare seven-one bench in favour of forwards purely out of the availability of squad members.

"We had some close contacts that weren't available, and a couple of players were carrying some small knocks," he said.

"So, we had to change our nine and 10 with Ali Price, who had a bit of a hit on his quad, so he fronted up and then Owen Farrell as well.

"Finn Russell's Achilles had been sore, so he went on the bench for us.

"We weren't too disrupted with the forward pack. Tadhg Beirne had to come out on the bench, so Maro [Itoje] came in there.

"We put Hamish Watson and Taulupe Faletau in just to cover. We know they could have gone into the backline if they were needed, but we were able to bring them on in the forwards.

"The backs had it really tough today (Wednesday), and I said to them afterwards that it was a hell of a lot easier for the forwards because they were able to get replaced.

"Our backs dug incredibly deep.

"Then we took Duhan van der Merwe off. His hamstrings were tightening up, and we were able to score through Josh Adams' try when we were down to 14 men.

"And then Louis Rees-Zammit's hamstrings tightened up as well, so we played the last few minutes with 13 men when the game was comfortably in the bag."

Teams:

Sharks

15 Anthony Volmink, 14 Marnus Potgieter, 13 Werner Kok, 12 Murray Koster, 11 Thaakir Abrahams, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi (captain), 7 Mpilo Gumede, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ntuthuko Mchunu 

Substitutes: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Khutha Mchunu, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 Jeandre Labuschagne, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Boeta Chamberlain, 23 Jeremy Ward

British & Irish Lions

TBA

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