Lions, Cheetahs left toothless following injury
21 May 2012 | RUDOLPH JACOBS
JOHANNESBURG - Both the Lions and the Cheetahs are counting their losses after another unsuccessful Super Rugby weekend.
Both have picked up a serious injury up front as the Cheetahs went down 34-20 to the Sharks in Bloemfontein, while the Lions went down 34-20 to the Reds in Brisbane by the identical scoreline.
Lock George Earle, who had to leave the field with concussion and is unlikely to be available for the Cheetahs this weekend, is set to be replaced by Andries Ferreira.
It could leave Earle, who is under contract to the Griquas, with precious little Super Rugby game time as he is set to join Welsh club Llanelli following the Super Rugby campaign.
The Cheetahs have only this weekend’s game against the Waratahs left in Bloemfontein and coach Naka Drotske will be looking for a back-up lock on his bench for Ferreira this weekend, which could be Martin Muller, Waltie Vermeulen, Ligtoring Landman or Edwin Hewitt.
After the June Tests, the Cheetahs have three games remaining – against the Bulls, Stormers and Sharks, with only the clash against the Capetonians at home.
So this weekend’s clash against the Waratahs will effectively be the penultimate home game of their Super Rugby season.
They are currently in 12th position on the log with four wins from 12, on 27 points, a massive 14 points behind the sixth-placed Sharks.
The Lions, with one win from 11, and languishing at the bottom of the table, will be approaching their final tour game against the Force in Perth this weekend as not only a chance to get at least one win on tour, but also as a realistic opportunity against fellow strugglers.
But they will have to do it without flank Grant Hattingh, who left the field on a stretcher with a leg injury in the loss to the Reds.
He is likely to be replaced by veteran Cobus Grobbelaar in the starting line-up while scrumhalf Tian Meyer could oust Ross Cronje who struggled against the Reds, in a likely rotational move
Although the Force are also among the strugglers in the competition, they have at least won two games but are also on a losing sequel having lost their last six matches.
With the bottom five places belonging to the Waratahs, the Cheetahs (both 27), the Force (19), the Blues (16) and the Lions (14), the men from Jozi will have their work cut out in the remaining five fixtures if they are to move away from the bottom of the standings.
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