Rudolph Jacobs
Rugby Journalist
2 minute read
15 May 2018
3:29 pm

Lions’ throne is now truly under threat

Rudolph Jacobs

The congestion in the South African Super Rugby conference is pronounced ... and that should make Swys de Bruin's men wary.

Albertus 'Kwagga' Smith of the Lions looks on after a Highlanders try during the round 12 Super Rugby match between the Highlanders and the Lions at Forsyth Barr Stadium on May 12, 2018 in Dunedin, New Zealand. Picture: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

The Lions ruled the roost for the past two seasons but the South African Super Rugby Conference is the most congested it has been for years.

The Jaguares, Bulls and Sharks (all on 24 points), and the Stormers (23) are currently putting the heat on the Lions who enjoy a tender seven-point lead on 31 points.

 

 

The Lions and the Stormers have both played 12 games, while the other three have only played 11, which makes the two games before the June international window crucial.

Kiwi sides like the Crusaders on 42, the Hurricanes (41) and Highlanders (32), have all more log points than the Lions, who occupy second place on the overall log by virtue of leading the conference, while the Chiefs (31) have the same points as the Lions.

After dropping the last three games on tour, Lions captain Franco Mostert said the ball is in their court to rebound against the Brumbies back at home this weekend.

Their final 39-27 tour loss to the Highlanders in Dunedin has increased the pressure on the Lions, but a win this weekend will keep the chasing pack at bay, at least for the time being.

“The Highlanders manned upon the night, credit to them, but I must say the first win on tour against the Waratahs was good, but then we slipped on some small stuff and matches, but we’ll work on it once back at home.

“We’ll go out this weekend and work hard to try to make our supporters proud again,” Mostert said.

It is the Jaguares who are busy making the loudest noises and significantly they face all-SA opposition in their final five regular matches.

They host the Bulls and the Sharks and – after the resumption– the Stormers at home and will then play the Bulls at Loftus and the Sharks in Durban.

The Jaguares have been flying below the radar since they joined the expanded 18-team format in 2016, but the way it stands now, their matches in Pretoria and Durban could be crucial to their chances.

They lost comprehensively to the Lions earlier in the season, but have tended to be competitive in South Africa.

Now that they have the confidence that should have come with completing a four-match winning streak in Australasia, the Jaguares should not only be formidable at home, they should also have the confidence to win here.

It makes them a big threat to the Lions, perhaps the biggest threat to the current front-runners.

If the Jaguares do manage to win their three home games against SA teams, the heat will be on the Lions to win the bulk of their remaining games.

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