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    Lions still top side in SA - Bulls coach

    2016-05-26 07:21

    Brenden Nel - SuperSport

    Pretoria - The Lions are still a top side, even though they will be missing their talisman flyhalf Elton Jantjies and should not be taken lightly.

    Those were the words of Bulls coach Nollis Marais ahead of Saturday’s Super Rugby showdown between the two sides, with the Lions still crossing the Jukskei as firm favourites even though they need a new playmaker in their side.

    Jantjies was ruled out for between three to four weeks and underwent an operation on his fractured finger on Tuesday, but despite losing him and fullback Jaco van der Walt, the Bulls say they will not be lured into a false sense of security.

    “Elton has been playing well but their side brings so much as well. Marnitz Boshoff - if they play him, he is an excellent rugby player as well. That team doesn’t rely on just one person, they are a good team all over. So it doesn’t matter who we play against, they will be a formidable side,” Marais told SuperSport when asked about the setback that has hit the Lions.

    They had plenty of motivation to perform last weekend after their 33-9 loss at the beginning of the season against the Stormers, when the teams met for the second time. But there isn’t the same inspiration against the Lions other than the obvious valuable points that are on offer for the winning team as well as a step closer to the playoffs.

    Still, the Bulls have the distinction of being the only unbeaten team at home in the competition and will want the victory to keep them at the top of their African conference 1.

    While they know what to expect from the Lions, they won’t be making the mistake of underestimating them. Especially after the Currie Cup game between the two sides last year.

    “For us it is very easy, we have been inconsistent at certain stages of the season and we wanted to change that. We made a decision at the beginning of the season, if we play at Loftus then we need to be up for it. There are no excuses,” Marais declared.

    “We are playing possibly the best attacking side in South Africa and it is good for us to measure ourselves against them. A lot of these guys played last year when we were 30-0 behind after 20 minutes. It is something we keep at the back of our minds.

    "We read all the things about dream finals and those things. We also have something to prove though. There is a way we want to play. To see how far we are, we have to play against the Currie Cup champions and currently the number one side in South Africa.

    “It isn’t difficult to motivate this side.”

    The Lions name their team on Thursday, with Marnitz Boshoff the favourite to replace Jantjies.

    Teams:

    Bulls

    15 SP Marais, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Lappies Labuschagne, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Lizo Gqoboka

    Substitutes: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Pierre Schoeman, 19 Grant Hattingh, 20 Deon Stegmann, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Dries Swanepoel

    Lions

    TBA

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    Fixtures

    Saturday, 17 February 2018
    • Stormers v Jaguares, Cape Town 15:05
    • Lions v Sharks, Emirates Airlines Park 17:15
    Friday, 23 February 2018
    • Highlanders v Blues, 08:35
    • Rebels v Reds, AAMI Park 10:45
    Saturday, 24 February 2018
    • Sunwolves v Brumbies, Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium 06:15
    • Crusaders v Chiefs, 08:35
    • Waratahs v Stormers, Allianz Stadium 10:45
    • Lions v Jaguares, Emirates Airlines Park 15:05
    • Bulls v Hurricanes, Loftus Versfeld 17:15

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