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by Baylion

Advantage Lions

July 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

The Lions took the first step to getting back into Super Rugby by beating the Kings 26-19 in PE in the first Wooden Spoon Knockout game. In taking a 4-1 log point lead the pressure shifts to the Kings for the second game at Ellis Park next Saturday.

Ironically it wasn’t the Lions attack that won them the game but their defence as they withstood the pressure the Kings applied, especially in the first half, feeding on Lions mistakes and using an aggressive rush defence to cut down any opportunities for the Lions to play a running game. The Kings coaching staff planned their strategy well and it was only the Lions defence that kept the Kings from breaking through.

Luck also played a role when Stokkies Hanekom intercepted while the Kings had a clear overlap on attack but in the end Elton Jantjies’s more accurate boot was the difference.

Ref Jaco Peyper has come in for a lot of criticism this weekend for not referring Hanekom’s second try to the TMO and supporters from both sides feel he let the opposition get away with virtual murder but it is up to the teams on the field to use their chances and the Lions used theirs a bit better than the Kings.

Yes, Peyper could and should have used the TMO more. He should have reviewed the possible headbutt as well as Bulbring’s high tackle, he should have reviewed Hanekoms try for a forward pass and Marcello Sampson’s for a possible offside. But he cannot use the TMO to review all errors. In term of the IRB’s TMO protocols the TMO may only be used when a try was scored or prevented being scored or to review possible incidents of foul play, not for every error the ref may be unsure of or maybe hadn’t even spotted.

Side note: As a commentator Bobby Skinstad is a joke and an embarrassment to South African rugby. His knowledge of the laws is severely lacking and his hysterical outbursts unprofessional.

A number of possible citings might be on the cards, one for an alleged headbutt by a Lions player and another for a decapitation tackle by David Bulbring on Elton Jantjies, but so far the citing commissioner has been quiet. We can but wait and see.

Be that as it may, the Lions and Kings now prepare for the decider on Saturday with some injury concerns to key players. For the Kings the main concern will be whether Demetri Catrakilis will be fit while the Lions will hope for the return of Michael Bondesio and Ross Cronje, who failed fitness tests before the match. During the match the Lions also lost Deon van Rensburg, Vian van der Watt, Jaco Kriel, Martin Bezuidenhout and JC Janse van Rensburg to injuries.

Game highlights: http://www.supersport.com/rugby/super-rugby/video/261014

On Lions Pride: Lions, you did us proud

On We Talk Rugby: The Lions’ defence won the day

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Kings vs Lions: Winning the knockout contest

July 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

The teams have been selected, the preparations done and in two days time the fates of two unions will rest in the hands of a group of young men with an average age of 25.

The knockout contest between the Lions and the Kings will be over two rounds and the simplest way to make sure of your place in Super Rugby 2014 is to win both matches. But if that doesn’t happen SARU’s promotion/relegation rules come into play.

The first match in Port Elizabeth will be crucial as it determines where the pressure will shift for the second match in Joburg and each team will go all out to win this one and to win it well.

Both teams’ coaches have taken some risks in their team selections, the Kings in starting with young Shane Gates at #12 and leaving a lot of experience on the bench for the letter stages of the game, the Lions in starting all their loan players and especially in starting Elton Jantjies in place of Marnitz Boshoff.

The match with probably be won or lost at the breakdowns and the performance amongst the forwards for possession of good ball for the backs will be crucial. The contest up front will be tough and both sides have packs that can contest in both the set pieces and broken play.

With the selection of Gates at #12 the Kings have gone for a more mobile backline and will probably look to run the ball more than they have in Super Rugby but this may open up space for the Lions danger men, Stokkies Hanekom and Anthony Volmink. For the Lions coach Johan Ackermann is happy that Jantjies will settle into the Lions’ game easily now that he is back in the den and getting some of Mother’s home cooked meals. We’ll know by Friday night whether and which of these gambles worked.

With the vast difference in the opposition the two teams played leading up to these matches it is virtually impossible to predict how they will shape on the day and each team’s supporters will probably feel their team has the best chance.

Lions by 9

Post your support messages to the Lions players on Lions Pride or on the Lions Pride Facebook page. I will send them through to the Lions on Friday.

By the numbers:

Average Age:
Lions: 24.91
Kings: 26.18

Players over 25:
Lions: 7
Kings: 13

Players with less than 10 Super Rugby games:
Lions: 14 (7 with 0)
Kings: 3

Super Rugby games:
Lions: 382
Kings: 511

Provincial games:
Lions: 964
Kings: 1569

International players:
Lions: 1
Kings: 3

The knockout rules:

The winner will be determined by log points (win = 4, draw = 2, 4 tries = 1, loss by 7 or less = 1), if equal by

1. Aggregate points difference, if equal by
2. Most tries scored, if equal
3. The Kings stay in Super Rugby

http://images.supersport.com/COMPETITION%20FORMAT%20AND%20GENERAL%20RULES%20-%20FEB%202013.pdf

Kings – 15 SP Marais, 14 Marcello Sampson, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Hadleigh Parkes, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Wimpie van der Walt, 6 Cornell du Preez, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Darron Nell (c), 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Charl du Plessis, 17 Hannes Franklin, 18 Steven Sykes, 19 Devin Oosthuizen, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 George Whitehead, 22 Waylon Murray.

Lions – 15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Nicolaas Hanekom, 12 Dylan des Fountain, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg (c).
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Willie Britz, 19 Warwick Tecklenburg, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Chrysander Botha.

More: Kings vs Lions @ NMB Stadium Preview

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Kings vs Lions Match Up

July 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

Sunday’s Rapport called the knockout matches the battle for life or death of one of the franchises and says that there will be no second chances next year, whichever team loses effectively signs the death warrant for its franchise.

A bit dramatic maybe but nevertheless true as the team that loses will lose too many players to stage a comeback.

The Kings not only will lose many of the journeymen they managed to sign up with the promise of Super Rugby, they will find it impossible to sign new players until such time as SANZAR approves a sixth South African franchise in Super Rugby.

The Lions lost 15 players after they got kicked out but managed to keep some and also to sign players on the fringes on short term contracts but they lose most of these players if they lose the knockouts.

There is so much at stake for both sides and both franchises are trying to hype up their supporters to fill their stadiums for the home matches:

Kings: http://youtu.be/79nTbnCwxWc

Lions: http://youtu.be/pfLPCN_cUvQ

Let’s look then at the players and match ups on which the fortunes of these two franchises rest over the next two weeks.

Fullbacks:

Kings: George Whitehead, SP Marais
Two very capable attacking fullbacks with Whitehead able to slot in at flyhalf as well.

Lions: Chrysander Botha, Ruan Combrinck, Lionel Cronje
With injuries to Jaco Taute and Andries Coetzee the Lions have three backups that can still be an attacking force from the back and Lionel Cronje has proved to be an excellent impact player in various backline positions.

Wings:

Kings: Sergeal Petersen (?), Marcello Sampson, Michael Killian
If Sergeal Petersen is still out injured the Kings will be thin on quality wings but both Sampson and Killian can be a danger when given space.

Lions: Anthony Volminck, Deon van Rensburg, Ruan Combrinck, Chrysander Botha
Volminck has become a tryscoring machine while old man Deon van Rensburg may be a tad slow on wing but his defence is solid while back ups Combrinck and Botha can inject speed.

Centres:

Kings: Waylon Murray, Ronnie Cooke, Hadley Parkes
The injury to Andries Strauss has definitely created a problem for the Kings in midfield.

Lions: Alwyn Hollenbach (?), Stokkies Hanekom, Dylan Des Fountain, Lionel Cronje
Lionle Mapoe is out injured and time will tell whether Hollenbach is fit to play but Stokkies has had a great year at #13 so far.

Flyhalves:

Kings: Demetri Catrakilis, George Whitehead
The Greek has had a great Super Rugby season, both with the boot and in his game management but he just doesn’t have enough quality outside him to turn his backline into a real attacking force.

Lions: Marnitz Boshoff, Elton Jantjies, Lionel Cronje
Boshoff has had a good season with the Lions, a solid performer with the boot and in getting his backline away while Jantjies has had a less than stellar season with the Stormers but should be more comfortable with the Lions game plan but will probably slot in on the bench for the first game.

Scrumhalves:

Kings: Shaun Venter, Nicolas Vergallo
Both scrummies had good seasons in Super Rugby and will hope for good ball from their forwards.

Lions: Michael Bondesio, Ross Cronje, Guy Cronje
There is a wide gap between the quality of play from Bondesio and that from the Cronje twins while Bondesio, in the absence of Jantjies, has developed into a playmaker for the Lions.

Loose forwards:

Kings: Cornell du Preez, Wimpie van der Walt, Jacques Engelbrecht, Devin Oosthuizen
Apart from Catrakilis the Kings loosies were probably their best players during Super Rugby and have been able to compete at the break downs as well as give the Kings some go forward ball and will be the biggest threat to the Lions’ attempt to dominate up front.

Lions: Derick Minnie, Jaco Kriel (?), Warren Whiteley (?), Warwick Tecklenberg, Willie Britz, Lambert Groenewaldt
Whiteley and Kriel’s participation is still uncertain but the Lions other loosies are quite capable to compete with the Kings loosies with the only concern being that Minnie might give Catrakilis too many opportunities to score with the boot.

Locks:

Kings: Steven Sykes, David, Bulbring, Darron Nell
Solid performers during the Super Rugby campaign in the lineouts, in ball carries and in the driving mauls and probably the strongest part of the Kings game.

Lions: Franco van der Merwe, Hendrik Roodt, Hugo Kloppers, JJ Breet, Gavin Annadale
The Lions struggled in the lineouts through most of their preparation games but Franco’s return should stabilise that. Hendrik Roodt has upped his game and is playing to the potential expected of him.

Hookers:

Kings: Bandise Maku, Hannes Franklin
Two solid performers in all facets of hooker play.

Lions: Martin Bezuidenhout, Robbie Coetzee, Swys du Toit
Callie Visagie is still on loan to the Bulls for the Super Rugby playoffs and it will be up to Bezuidenhout to help sort out the lineout accuracy.

Props:

Kings: Schalk Ferreira, Kevin Buys (?), Grant Kemp, Charl du Plessis
Even if Buys can’t play the Kings will still field a strong front row and a scrum that weren’t often outscrummed during Super Rugby.

Lions: JC Janse van Rensburg, Ruan Dreyer, CJ van der Linde (?), Julian Redelinghuys, Jacques van Rooyen
With the best scrummaging loosehead in the country anchoring their scrums the Lions have developed one of the best scrummaging packs in South Africa in recent years and this year is no different. The scrums will be the Lions foundation to attain forward dominance.

Strengths:

Kings: Lineouts, drive mauls, break downs, goal kicking, tactical kicking
The Kings will attempt to force the Lions to attack from deep through tactical kicks and will depend on turnovers to launch counter attacks. Once they are in the Lions 22 they will try and force lineouts to get their driving maul going.

Lions: Scrums, quick ball rotation, driving mauls, backline attacks
The Lions will use their scrums to establish up front dominance and use quick ball rotation to speed up the game to put the Kings defence under pressure. Near the Kings tryline they will use their driving mauls to try and score.

Also published on Lions Pride

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by Baylion

The 2013 SR wooden spoon play-offs – the sh!t is going hit the fan

October 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

Let’s forget about the decision to kick out the Lions and replace them with the Kings, that topic has been done to death already. Let’s also forget for a moment that the Kings are struggling to recruit players due to not only the late decision but also due to the fact that they are only guaranteed one year in Super Rugby. Let us also ignore whether the Kings may or may not be competitive in Super Rugby next year, time will tell.

Let’s look at the play-off scenario and the logistics of the play-off games

SARU’s decision to kick out the Lions includes the provision that the Lions will play a home and away knock-out series against the last placed South African team but none of the logistics and processes have been spelled out yet, no details have been revealed as yet, and the effect of these play-off matches hasn’t been discussed.

In recent weeks the Lions have lent some of their contracted players to other franchises (Franco van de Merwe – Sharks, Jaco Taute – Stormers, Elton Jantjies – Stormers, Callie Visagie – Bulls, as well as some other whose agreements haven’t been confirmed yet) on the proviso that they return to the Lions at least two weeks before the knock-out matches. These players loans are being don with the approval of SARU, if not explicitly then at least implicitly. Lions supporters in general are quite happy that we will at least have out players back for play-offs and the Currie Cup.

But how true is that? And when will these matches be played?

Let’s look at the facts:

  1. Super Rugby 2013 finishes on 3 August 2013 with the play-offs for the finals starting on 19 July 2013.
  2. The Rugby Championship will probably start on 17 August 2013, leaving a two week (one weekend) break after Super Rugby.
  3. In terms of IRB regulations clubs, unions and franchises must release players called up for national duty at least five days before any tests they are selected for during the four nations test window which will probably run from 17 August 2013 to 12 October 2013. Their Boks called up must be released on the 12th, a week after Super Rugby.
  4. The Currie Cup started on 10 August this year but that schedule is in the hands of SARU and can be adjusted. However, the Currie Cup this year finishes on 27 October 2012, two weeks before the first test of the EOYT to Europe.
  5. A number of Lions players’ contracts expire on 31 October 2013.
  6. The player transfer window is from August to October which means players looking to negotiate deals have only that period available to them and would rather finalise deals during the early part of that window.
  7. The Lions players’ loan agreements provide that they have to be released at least two weeks before the knock-out matches.

2013 rugby schedule

Given these facts the knockout matches must take place between 19 July 2013 and 31 October 2013 and the only free weekend in that time is on 10 August 2013, a week before the Rugby Championship starts. However the knockouts are supposed to be on a home and away basis,which requires two weekends.

So the break between Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship is just not suitable.

So how about after the Rugby Championship finishes early in October?

At that time the Currie Cup is in full swing and entering its final stages so unless there is a break scheduled into the Currie Cup schedule the knock out matches cannot be fit in during October. And if there is, the Currie Cup finals will clash with the EOYT schedule.

How about after October?

Firstly the EOYT will be in November leaving the play-offs to be played only in December and by that time a number of players’ contracts would have expired and they might have signed with new teams who need them for their Super Rugby preparations.

This leaves the only possible time for these knock-outs to be played is during the Super Rugby play-off and finals phase between 19 July and 3 August and that brings into question the player loan agreements.

How happy will the Stormers be to release Jantjies and Taute just as they enter into the knock-out phases of the Super Rugby competition, or any other franchise releasing players they obtained under similar agreements?

Or will the Lions, for the sake of goodwill, have to go into the wooden spoon play-offs without their top players even though the loan agreements provide for them to be released?

These loan agreements make sense from a Lions perspective as they keep their top players under contract for 2013 but in the end they may just cause more and unnecessary problems for the union as players like Taute, Jantjies and possibly Mapoe will not be available for the 2013 Currie Cup anyway due to Bok commitments anyway.

So my question to SARU is: When do you plan for these matches to be played? Will teams have to play the Super Rugby final stages without their loan players or will the Lions and their opponents be required to play these matches without their Springbok players, if they have any?

This is another case where something sounded good in the SARU boardroom but the consequences weren’t properly investigated or planned for.

I can only see sh!t coming.

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A Bullfight of some importance

October 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

This weekend’s most crucial match is probably the one between Western Province and the Cheetahs as the fortunes of the winner and the loser differ so widely, the loser may very well play in a promotion/relegation match and the winner will play in a semi-final match.

In the Sharks Griquas game the Sharks have very little to lose except maybe a potential home final while Griquas is also playing to stay out of the potential relegation zone.

Come Saturday night the Golden Lions will know exactly what they are playing for although it will always be a must win game for the Blue Bulls, no matter what happened elsewhere, as a loss will mean they face the Kings in a promotion/relegation contest.

If the Sharks beat the Griguas the Lions will stay in second place irrespective of the result. A loss or a draw by the Sharks means the Lions could still end top of the log if they beat the Bulls.

After a disappointing loss against the Griquas last weekend and with their players returning from the Bok squad coach Johan Ackermann has already hinted that he may rest some players for this match but will only announce his team later today. But if the Sharks lose on Friday the Lions may be faced with the need for a late reshuffle but they really just want to get through this match without any serious injuries while giving the returning players some game time to gel again with the rest of the team.

Off the field this week has been a positive week for the Lions, one of few this year. It was announced that a number of players extended their contracts, that some new blood has signed with the union and plans also seem to be progressing with plans for alternative matches next year, so the players should feel buoyed and upbeat as a home semi-final is already in the bag.

This is a difficult game to predict as it has all the feel of a practice match, for the Lions anyway, and one get the idea they just want a good run and have the players enjoy themselves. With little or no pressure on the players anything can happen, they can go out and beat the crap out of the Blue Bulls or they can unravel and get the crap beaten out of them. If last year’s last league match against the Sharks in Durban is anything to go by the latter seems to be the more probable scenario.

Therefore I’m going with the Blue Bulls by 10 20.

Golden Lions:
15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Deon van Rensburg, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach,11 Anthony Volminck, 10 Butch James (c), 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 CJ van der Linde.

Reserves: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Paul Willemse, 19 Warren Whiteley, 20 Whestley Moolman, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Lionel Mapoe.

Blue Bulls:
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Dewald Potgieter (captain), 5 Flip van der Merwe, 4 Juandré Kruger, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Morné Mellett.

Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 CJ Stander, 20 Francois Hougaard, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 Dean Greyling.

Last five years:

Overall:
Lions: 4
Bulls: 5

@ Coca Cola Park:
Lions: 1
Bulls: 3

2012
Vodacom Blue Bulls 23 – 32 MTN Golden Lions Loftus Versveld
2011
MTN Golden Lions 18 – 21 Vodacom Blue Bulls Coca-Cola Park
Vodacom Blue Bulls 27 – 36 MTN Golden Lions Loftus Versfeld
2010
Vodacom Blue Bulls 24 – 21 Xerox Lions Loftus Versfeld
Xerox Lions 18 – 32 Vodacom Blue Bulls Coca-Cola Park Stadium
2009
Xerox Lions 20 – 13 Vodacom Blue Bulls Coca-Cola Park Stadium
Vodacom Blue Bulls 19 – 13 Xerox Lions Loftus Versfeld
2008
Vodacom Blue Bulls 27 – 30 Xerox Lions Loftus Versfeld
Xerox Lions 7 – 21 Vodacom Blue Bulls Ellis Park