The Super Rugby season is approaching its climax as the Lions take on the Highlanders in the second semi-final on Saturday. Here we briefly discuss the teams, betting odds and predictions.
The Lions are full of confidence after comfortably beating the Crusaders in the quarter final at Ellis Park. The Lions ran in 5 tries to score their victory and have a striking power in their backline in the form of Springboks; Faf de Klerk, Elton Jantjies, Combrink and Mapoe. Through the high work rate of their forwards such as Jaco Kriel, Fraco Mostert and Warren Whitely, they will pose a threat to the Highlanders.
Update: Whitely has been ruled out of the game due to a calf injury.
The Lions lost 15-34 to the Highlanders in Dunedin earlier in the competition, but beat them in 2015 at Ellis Park 28-23, running in 3 tries to 2.
The Lions have been the top attacking side in the competition this year, averaging more points, tries, defenders beaten and metres per game of any team.
The defending champions held on to beat the Brumbies in Canberra 15-9 to secure their place in the semi-finals. The Highlanders are on a 4 match winning streak and have an exceptional attacking ability with game breakers in their back three of Ben Smith, Waisake Naholo and Patrick Osbourne. An interesting statistic is that the Highlanders don’t seem to travel well to South Africa with just 3 wins from their last 9 game in South Africa, with one of those wins over the hapless Kings.
The Highlanders have been the busiest side in defence, averaging the most tackles (125) of any team in 2016 yet conceding the fewest points and tries.
The Highlanders have clocked up nearly 50 000 air miles in the past month which might count against them. This excessive travel coupled with the altitude of the playing fields of the Highveld might be a bridge to far and if the Lions can get off to a good start they will be able to control the game and make their way into their first Super Rugby final. Lions should win a tight game by 7.
Lions to win – 15/20
Highlanders to win – 12/10
Please note betting odds quoted are correct at time of publication and are subject to change. View the latest super rugby betting odds
Team line ups
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Dylan Smith
Substitutes: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Jacques van Rooyen, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Steph de Witt, 21 Dillon Smit, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Jaco van der Walt
15 Ben Smith (captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Matt Faddes, 12 Malakai Fekitoa, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 James Lentjes, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown
Substitutes: 16 Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Liam Squire, 21 Dan Pryor, 22 Te Aihe Toma, 23 Marty Banks
Date : Saturday 30 July 2016
Venue : Ellis Park Johannesburg
Kick Off local: 15:00 local
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant Ref 1: Ben O’Keefe
Assistant Ref 2: AJ Jacobs
TMO : Shaun Veldsman
Take a look at our useful Understanding Rugby Betting if you’re wanting to place a few bets on this year’s Super Rugby.