Lions vs Blues Super Rugby preview

There’s definitely something about Friday nights in Johannesburg. It’s when the Lions come out to really play – or is it that opponents get nervous after dark in Doornfontein?


Whatever the reason, the Lions are a Friday nightteam. The Super Rugby team boast a 45 percent winning record at home on Fridays, compared to their 36 percent winning rate from games hosted on Saturdays.


The Lions have won nine of 20 Friday night matches played at Coca-Cola Park (and in Bloemfontein) during the history of the competition (this is for all Super Rugby games since 1996, including the Cats).


By contrast, on Saturdays, the hosts have managed to win only 21 of their 58 home games. The Johannesburg franchise claimed five of their nine victories against New Zealand opposition on a Friday which includes a 34-27 win over the Blues in 2000, their opponents this weekend.


Their most recent success on a Friday was achieved when they beat the Highlanders by 27-22 in 2009.


The Johannesburg franchise failed to win any home games during last season’s competition and having lost two matches this year they have lost their last 16 matches.


The Lions only played in one home game on a Friday during last year’s Super 14 where the Johannesburg team ran in nine tries before going down 72-65 to the Chiefs at Coca-Cola Park.


The Lions have a poor record against the Blues and have lost 10 of the 13 clashes between the teams. The last time the Lions beat the Blues was five matches ago in 2006 when the Lions won by a point. On average the Lions score 19 points against the Blues and the Lions score 34 points.


Lions coach John Mitchell has stuck with his players where he was able to and the team is becoming more settled. They could easily have won last week’s match against the Stormers had Rory Kockott being on the field doing the goal kicking instead of Elton Jantjies.


The Blues have made a raft of changes for this match which is a little odd given that they kept the same team for the Sharks that beat the Crusaders. Coach Pat Lam has eevn dropped captain Keven Mealamu to the bench and the reasoning is that the bench will come on and win the match. We think this is a dangerous and somewhat outdated view as the Lions are a vastly improved team to last year.


The Bookies have given the Lions a 3 point start for this match with an offer of Bet£10 and get £20 pound. It’s a Friday night match and the Lions losing streak has got to end soon. We are going to go with the Lions on this one and say that the Lions will win by 8 or more.


Last five matches
Sat, 08 May 2010 Lions v Blues 14-56 Johannesburg
Fri, 10 Apr 2009 Lions v Blues 12-36 Auckland
Sat, 23 Feb 2008 Lions v Blues 10-55 Johannesburg
Sat, 10 Mar 2007 Lions v Blues 14-41 Auckland
Sat, 06 May 2006 Lions v Blues 34-33 Johannesburg


Lions overall record against the Blues
Played 13, Wins 3, Losses 10 , Draws 0


Match No. 16. Lions v Blues
Date :Friday 4 March
Venue : Johannesburg
Kick Off local: 19:10
Kick Off GMT: 17:10
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan
Assistant Ref 1:Joey Salmans
Assistant Ref 2:Phillip Bosch
TMO :Shaun Veldsman


Teams


Lions : Jaco Taute, Lionel Mapoe, Waylon Murray, Doppies la Grange, Michael Killian, Elton Jantjies, Jano Vermaak, Warren Whiteley, Josh Strauss, Derick Minnie, Franco van der Merwe (capt.), Wikus van Heerden, Patric Cilliers, Bandise Maku, JC Janse van Rensburg


Replacements: Martin Bezuidenhout,

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