They will encounter another South African referee, Stuart Berry, who has come under fire from SANZAR Game Manager Lyndon Bray for his handling of the Blues game against the Lions last week. However, the Reds can’t blame all their problems on the referee. There were three blown tries – and some ill-discipline – that robbed Richard Graham’s men of a chance at upsetting the unbeaten Sharks. They now have to turn their attention to another South African side on a roll.
The Lions have racked up three wins already in 2014 to be the surprise packets of the competition and will take some beating at Ellis Park. As well as being on their game the Reds will want to be on their best behaviour, with Lions superboot Marnitz Boshoff – who has already booted 20 penalties among his 96 points so far in 2014 – sure to make them pay for any indiscretions. Lions coach Johan Ackermann has repeatedly warned that his team, despite their impressive form, can’t take anything for granted.
“They certainly bring a new challenge,” he said of the Reds. “We can’t just look at their game against the Sharks this past Saturday,” Ackermann said, adding: “We have to accept that they may have been a bit below par [in a 20-35 loss in Durban]. It was their first game on the road and we have to realise they will be a much bigger threat. “We know how dangerous their backline can be and we will certainly have to improve our defence.”
Graham said the team had prepared well despite a few injury setbacks and was looking forward to the contest. “The Lions have been one of the form teams in the early rounds of Super Rugby. They are a young, energetic team who fight and scrap for everything,” Graham said. “We have spent a large part of the week focusing on our own game and wanting to improve certain aspects around the contact areas.”
The Reds and Lions have met 17 times in Super Rugby, with Queensland winning 13 of the encounters and drawing one. The Reds’ record in Johannesburg against the Lions is seven wins, one loss and one draw.
2012: Reds won 34-20, Brisbane
2011: Reds won 30-25, Johannesburg
2010: Reds won 41-26, Johannesburg
2009: Lions won 31-20, Brisbane
2008: Lions and Reds drew 24-24, Johannesburg
2007: Lions won 26-20, Brisbane
Lions: 15 Coenie van Wyk, 14 JW Jonker, 13 Deon van Rensburg, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Willie Britz, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Franco Mostert, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Mark Pretorius, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Luvuyiso Lusaseni, 20 Stephan de Wit, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Lionel Mapoe, 23 Ruan Combrinck.
Reds: 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Rod Davies, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Mike Harris, 11 Lachie Turner, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Saia Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Albert Anae, 18 Jono Owen, 19 Ed O’Donoghue, 20 Beau Robinson, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Anthony Fainga’a/Ben Lucas, 23 Dom Shipperley.
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Francois de Bruin (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)