Johannesburg - The Lions will be out for revenge when they host the Cheetahs in Johannesburg on Saturday afternoon.
The last time these two sides met in Super Rugby, on 6 May 2011, the team from Bloemfontein gave their former Cats-partners a rugby lesson when they won 53-19 at Coca-Cola Park.
It was the Lions’ biggest defeat of last season against a team that ultimately finished three positions ahead of them on the Super Rugby log.
Earlier in 2011, when these two sides met in Bloemfontein, the team from Johannesburg ended a 17-match losing streak against the Cheetahs at the Free State Stadium by winning 25-20.
Lions coach John Mitchell, in his second season with the team from Johannesburg, said his players are ready for action and to improve on their performances in 2011.
“We’re hungry for success, which I’ve seen in our pre-season games. I think our style of play is innovative and exciting. Half the teams will win and half the teams will lose this weekend, so we’ll aim to be on the right side of that equation on Saturday,” said Mitchell.
Naka Drotské, into his fifth season as head coach of the Cheetahs, realises last year’s big win at Coca-Cola Park belongs to history and will not count for anything on Saturday.
“It’s going to be a very tough game, we know that. It’s never easy in Johannesburg, and we’re facing a team that can build on a very good victory in last year’s Currie Cup,” he said.
“It would be a mistake to underestimate the momentum they got from that Currie Cup triumph.
“Winning there would be the ideal start for us, because we face the Bulls next week and then we leave on tour. But it won’t be easy and although we have good depth and some exciting youngsters coming through, we’re mindful of how things can change from one year to the next.”
Interestingly enough, both sides will be captained by a player with the surname Strauss - the Lions by the bearded loose forward Josh and the Cheetahs by Springbok hooker Adriaan (who will be playing in his 50th Super Rugby match for the Cheetahs), whose cousin, Andries Strauss, is the Free Staters’ vice-captain.Teams:Lions:
15 Jaco Taute, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Doppies le Grange, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 James Kamana, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Joshua Strauss (captain), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Wikus van Heerden/ Hendrik Roodt, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse/ CJ
van der Linde, 18 Hendrik Roodt / Stephan Greeff, 19 Warren Whiteley, 20 Tian Meyer, 21 Butch James
, 22 Lionel Mapoe.Cheetahs:
15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Dusty Noble, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Tewis de Bruyn, 8 Davon Raubenheimer, 7 Philip van der Walt, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss
(captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane
Substitutes: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Lourens Adriaanse, 18 Waltie Vermeulen, 19 Ashley Johnson, 20 Pieter van Zyl, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Willie le Roux