||Thank you for joining us. Remember to catch some more Super Rugby action next week on Rugby365|
||The away team looks to run the ball from the line-out but the Lions defence holds strong and forces a knock-on. That's the end of the ball game and the Lions secures their 1st win of the competition|
||Sharks line-out 5m out as the siren sounds. A score here will equalize the scores|
||The Lions slowing down the game by playing a couple of phases. The Sharks wins a penalty as the Lions holds onto the ball on the ground and the Sharks opts for touch|
||The Sharks looks to maul but they are going nowhere slow. They breakaway but the Sharks attacker becomes isolated and the Lions wins a penalty and the pressure is off them again.|
||Cronje feeds the scrum but the Sharks wins a penalty and they opt for touch 5m out|
||The Lions wins a turnover scrum right in front of their own goal line and the pressure is relieved.|
||The Sharks still on attack deep inside the Lions' half. They manage to get close to the try line but Van Wyk loses the ball forward. Penalty awarded to the men in black and they opt for the line-out|
||The Sharks with ball in hand deep inside their own half and Curwin Bosch creates a bit of magic and runs into space. Penalty won by the Sharks and the opt for touch|
||The home team wins a penalty in front of goal. A relatively easy kick missed by Jantjies|
||The Lions wins a penalty and opts for touch. Touch found on the 22. The Lions tries a cross kick but the player is too close to touch and is pushed into touch|
||Turnover ball for the Lions and they counter. Mahuza finds space and passes it inside but the ball goes forward out of Jantjies' hand|
||Jantjies kicks it short and the Sharks clears but the Lions runs it back. a few handling errors by the home team sees possession change hand and the Sharks are back on the attack|
||The Sharks frontrow still struggling as the Lions wins another penalty at the scrum and they opt for goal 50m out|
||The Lions makes a meal out of their line-out ball and the men from Durban gets a scrum in good attacking position|
||At the restart the Lions chips the ball over the Sharks defenders but the ball is not gathered successfully. Scrum for the Sharks. The Sharks goes wide from the scrum just inside their own half. Mapimpi tries to kick but the ball goes into touch|
||Jantjies fails to add the extras|
||The Lions wins a penalty and opts for the quick tap. Kwagga Smith goes over the line but the Ref goes upstairs to check if it was double movement. The try is awarded|
||At the return off play the Lions get ball in hand and a kick from Coetzee forces the Sharks to run the ball into touch. Lions line-out 5m out as they look to maul but their maul variation doesn't seem to work so they bash it up short|
||Rob du Preez adds the extras|
||At the return of play the Sharks gets the ball back and manages a play of their own that sees Mapimpi go over for his 1st try in his new jersey|
||Jantjies adds the extras|
||The Lions attacking from the scrum and Andries Coetzee hits a gap. He manages to get the ball out as he is run down. The Lions retains the ball and plays quickly. Lionel Mapoe slices through as the Sharks defenders are trying to get back. Try for the home team|
||22 drop-out and the Lions apply pressure to win a scrum cllose to the halfway mark|
||The Sharks wins their 1st scrum penalty after struggling in the 1st half. Rob du Preez lines it up for goal but he just misses it as the ball drifts away|
||Jantjies chips but the ball is secured by the Sharks and they look to run. The ball is ripped in contact and the ref gives the knock on. Scrum for the home team|
||The Sharks manages to get the ball back and they attack the right flank but the ball is lost forward. Scrum for the home team|
||After the restart the Sharkjs again look fried up and are running the ball hard at the LIons defensive line. They manage to get go forward ball but a turnover penalty stops their momentum|
||Rob du Preez hits the upright|
||The Sharks gets the 2nd half on the way. They look to apply pressure but the Lions manages to secure the ball and clear. The Sharks attacking from the line-out and they manage to ind a few gaps in the LIons' defensive line. Robert du Preez spots a gap and powers his way forward. The Sharks goes to the short side and Sibusiso Nkosi has work to do but finished superbly|
||The Lions opts for touch as they look to play some more after the siren sounded. They get poor ball from the line-out and Malcolm Marx decides his had enough for the half and runs it into touch|
||Scrum reset. The Sharks look to find some stability and maybe go into the half break with a score but the Lions out muscle them at the scrum and wins a penalty.|
||Penalty for the the Sharks and they opt for touch. The Sharks looks to maul but the Lions pack defends strongly. The Sharks breaks away but the ball becomes unplayable and the men in black is awarded a scrum 5m out|
||Lions line-out on the halfway line. They look to run the ball from there but the Sharks defence holds strong and forces a turnover. The Sharks looks to counter and after a few beautiful touches by Sharks backs and forwards alike sees the visitors 5m out|
||Scrum reset again as the Sharks front row is struggling a bit. A much better scrum from the visitors gives Robert du Preez time to clear effortlessly|
||The Lions manages to build an attack but the Sharks forces a turnover as they hold up the Lions runner inside their own half.|
||An unforced error by the Sharks sees the home team get a scrum on the halfway mark|
||Another free-kick for the Lions and this time they tap it quick looking to catch out the Sharks. They gain a few yards before the ball is kicked into touch|
||Free-kick for the home team at the scrum and they opt for the scrum again. This time Harold Vorster takes it up in the midfield but the Sharks manages to hold him up. Scrum for the visitors|
||The Lions attacks wide from their line-out but the Sharks manages to force a scrum.|
||This time the Lions fail to secure their line-out ball and the Sharks clears. A bit of ping pong kicking before the Sharks find touch|
||At the return of play the Sharks gets a line-out inside the Lions' half after a clearance by Jantjies. The Sharks fail to secure their ball and the Lions looks to attack from their own half before they kick. The Sharks returns the kick, into touch|
||Jantjies adds the extras|
||The Lions looking dangerous with ball in hand as they spread it wide and find Aphiwe Dyantyi in space. He grubbers the ball forwards and collects to score his debut try|
||After the restart the Sharks manages to win the ball back but the ball is lost forward in contact and Janties drives the Sharks back inside their own 22. Rob du Preez clears from the line-out|
||Jabtjies adds the extras|
||The Lions runs it wide from the line-out as they fail to secure clean ball. Lionel Mapoe runs a beautifull line, hard and strong to go over for the 1st try for his team|
||The Lions scrum over powering the Sharks front-row and they win a penalty. The Lions backs themselves and opts for touch|
||The Lions this time secures their line-out ball and they look to maul but the Sharks defense manages to force a turn-over as the maul goes down. Scrum for the Sharks on their own 22|
||Another scrum reset. Cronje feeds and the Lions scrum goes over the ball but no one collects and the Sharks number 6 pounces on it. Penalty for the home team and they opt for touch. Coetzee with a beautiful touch finder|
||At the return of play the Sharks are back on the attack and edging closer but the Lions manages to win a scrum as the ball goes down on the ground. Scrum close to their own 22 for the home team|
||Rob du Preez adds the extras|
||Powerful driving maul by the Sharks wins a penalty and they opt for the line-out again. This time they spread the ball a bit wider and Rob du Preez runs through the arms of his opposite number to score the 1st try of afternoon and his 1st in his new black jersey|
||The Sharks on the attack inside the Lions' half. They put in a grubber-kick and the Lions is forced to run the ball into touch. Line-out for the Sharks only a couple of yards out|
||A powerful scrum by the home team wins a penalty and they opt for touch. The Lions looks to attack wide from the line-out but the ball lands in no mans land and is collected by the Sharks. Rob du Preez clears and the ball goes over the try line and Vorster dots it down 22 drop-out|
||The Lions returns the kick but the ball goes over the deadball line and the Sharks gets a scrum back on the mark where the ball was kicked from, close to the Lions 22|
||Referee Glen Jackson blows his whistle and Elton Janties get the game on the way with a relatively deep kick-off. The Lions apply pressure but the Sharks manages to secure the ball and clear into touch. Line-out for the home team close to the Sharks's 10. The Sharks wins the line-out ball and Rob Du Preez clears|
||The players are doing their final preparations before taking the field. Stay tuned for what promises to be a very entertaining match|
||The big question remains what effect the departure of Johan Ackermann will have on the beaten finalists. Insiders will tell you that not much will change, but the naysayers will have their doubts. The consistency for the Lions come in the form of the playing roster, which has a host of Springboks to provide the stability - the likes of Andries Coetzee, Lionel Mapoe, Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronje, Warren Whiteley (as captain), Francois Mostert, and Malcolm Marx. The excitement factor will come in the form of young Aphiwe Dyantyi and Sevens Bok Albertus Smith - players with heaps of talent. It is an intriguing replay of last year's quarterfinal, which the Lions won 23-21 - with the visitors from Durban bemoaning a few contentious calls. Joey Mongalo, the new defence specialist on a revamped Lions coaching panel, said he felt there might be some 'backlash'. "They may feel a bit hard done by, by that last play [in the quarterfinal]," Mongalo said. "I am expecting a lot of emotion in this game," he said. He pointed to the Sharks set pieces as a major threat. "However, with Dick Muir coming in [as attack coach] we would expect the Sharks to be a bit more lively on attack," the Lions assistant said. "They are likely to take the ball a bit more to the edges than they have done in the past." Sharks coach Robert du Preez said his team "worked extremely hard" on their own game in the pre-season and are not too concerned about what the Lions have been up to. "What's especially pleasing to see is the vibe and excitement in the group," Du Preez said. "Every player was given an opportunity during the warm-up games and so many of them put their hands up, which made it extremely difficult to decide on our matchday 23. "Naturally, the guys who have been left out will feel desperately disappointed as they have all put in the hard yards. "I stressed the fact that this campaign is going to be a squad effort and every guy will be called upon, at different stages, to contribute to the team's goals. "This is an important game and a great start will set the tone for our campaign. We are excited to go out there and play."|
||Welcome to Ellis Park, Johannesburg where the Lions will face the Sharks in this round 1 Super Rugby clash|
SEARCHING FOR ENTERTAINMENT: It is another new start - not because it is a new season, but there is an attempt to revive an ailing competition.
Going back to 15 teams give the appearance of a more streamlined competition.
However, only time will tell if it is really better and more entertaining.
The South African conference - also awash with changes - gets things underway.
New coaches, some astute recruitment and most of all renewed hope that they could finally end the New Zealand dominance if the competition.
We look at the Round One matches!
Saturday, February 17:
Stormers v Jaguares
(Newlands, Cape Town - Kick-off: 15.05; 13.05 GMT; 10.05 Buenos Aires time)
The Stormers are under pressure to win their opening match, simply because they hot the road earlier this year.
After Saturday they have a three-week trip that will see them play the Waratahs, Crusaders and Highlanders.
Given last year's poor performances on tour - when they coughed up more than 50 points twice, losing to the Crusaders (24-57), Highlanders (14-57) and Hurricanes (22-41) in a horror road trip.
Both captain Siyamthanda Kolisi and coach Robbie Fleck spoke about the need to start well against the South American visitors - who have a new coach in Mario Ledesma and suffered defeat in a pre-season match against the Bulls last week.
"We want to be better than we were last year," Kolisi said of their quarterfinal exit in 2017.
"This first game is the most important game for us," the skipper said, adding: "We have to hit the ground running."
Fleck admitted that touring so early in the season brings with it some serious challenges.
However, he defended his team's poor defensive record in 2017, saying the 64 tries they scored were more than the 61 they conceded - even though they were fifth worst in the competition and by some distance the worst of the teams that made the play-offs.
"We should concentrate on the positives, which is our attack," the coach said, adding: "It is a major change from what we did in the past.
"Yes, we conceded some tries, [but] we conceded most of those tries on tour [in New Zealand].
"When we got back we were a better defensive outfit and we conceded just one try in the quarterfinal [loss] to the Chiefs."
He admitted that because they tour a lot earlier, the Stormers "have to win this game".
The Stormers have won both their previous encounters with the Argentine franchise.
So it's not surprising Jaguares coach Mario Ledesma was cautious about the opening match.
He pointed to the physical nature of the home team and their solid defence.
Ledesma has no doubt that his team will have to "physically" impose themselves on the Stormers and be accurate in defence.
"They are very dangerous and have high-quality players," the coach continued.
"In all positions, despite the absence of some important ones [like Springboks Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit], they have players who have played for the Springboks, or who will do so in the future."
The biggest challenge, he says, "will be to adapt quickly to the pace of Super Rugby.
"Starting in South Africa is not the easiest, but we are up for the challenge."
2017: Stormers won 32-25, Cape Town
2016: Stormers won 13-8, Buenos Aires
Prediction: The Stormers have won each of their two previous with the Jaguares, though the Argentine squad has picked up a losing bonus point on each occasion. The Stormers have won their season opener in six of the last eight Super Rugby campaigns, including each of the last three. The Jaguares have lost their last four games in South Africa, though they've picked up a losing bonus point in three of those defeats. The Jaguares were the most penalised team in the competition last season, conceding an average of 11.5 penalties per game. Sikhumbuzo Notshe has scored five tries in his last five home games for the Stormers. The Jaguares can win, but don't put your house on it. We feel the Stormers will win by nine points.
Stormers: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Cobus Wiese, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 John Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Jacobus Janse van Rensburg, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Jan de Klerk, 20 Kobus van Dyk, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 George Whitehead, 23 Johannes Engelbrecht.
Jaguares: 15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Ramiro Moyano, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Bautista Ezcurra, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Tomás Lezana, 7 Javier Ortega Desio, 6 Pablo Matera (captain), 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Matías Alemanno, 3 Nahuel Tétaz Chaparro, 2 Agustín Creevy, 1 Felipe Arregui.
Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Javier Manuel Diaz, 18 Juan Pablo Zeiss, 19 Guido Petti Pagadizaval, 20 Marcos Kremer, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Juan Martin Hernandez, 23 Bautista Delguy.
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen, Egon Seconds
TMO: Christie du Preez
Lions v Sharks
(Ellis Park, Johannesburg - Kick-off: 17.15; 15.15 GMT)
The big question remains what effect the departure of Johan Ackermann will have on the beaten finalists.
Insiders will tell you that not much will change, but the naysayers will have their doubts.
The consistency for the Lions come in the form of the playing roster, which has a host of Springboks to provide the stability - the likes of Andries Coetzee, Lionel Mapoe, Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronje, Warren Whiteley (as captain), Francois Mostert, and Malcolm Marx.
The excitement factor will come in the form of young Aphiwe Dyantyi and Sevens Bok Albertus Smith - players with heaps of talent.
It is an intriguing replay of last year's quarterfinal, which the Lions won 23-21 - with the visitors from Durban bemoaning a few contentious calls.
Joey Mongalo, the new defence specialist on a revamped Lions coaching panel, said he felt there might be some 'backlash'.
"They may feel a bit hard done by, by that last play [in the quarterfinal]," Mongalo said.
"I am expecting a lot of emotion in this game," he said.
He pointed to the Sharks set pieces as a major threat.
"However, with Dick Muir coming in [as attack coach] we would expect the Sharks to be a bit more lively on attack," the Lions assistant said.
"They are likely to take the ball a bit more to the edges than they have done in the past."
Sharks coach Robert du Preez said his team "worked extremely hard" on their own game in the pre-season and are not too concerned about what the Lions have been up to.
"What's especially pleasing to see is the vibe and excitement in the group," Du Preez said.
"Every player was given an opportunity during the warm-up games and so many of them put their hands up, which made it extremely difficult to decide on our matchday 23.
"Naturally, the guys who have been left out will feel desperately disappointed as they have all put in the hard yards.
"I stressed the fact that this campaign is going to be a squad effort and every guy will be called upon, at different stages, to contribute to the team's goals.
"This is an important game and a great start will set the tone for our campaign. We are excited to go out there and play."
2017: Lions won 23-21, Johannesburg (preliminary play-off)
2017: Lions won 27-10, Durban
2017: Lions won 34-29, Johannesburg
2016: Lions won 37-10, Johannesburg
2016: Lions won 24-9, Durban
Prediction: The Lions have won their last six games on the bounce against the Sharks; they had picked up just two wins in their 13 prior meetings. The Lions have won four of their last five season openers, though only one of those games saw the home side on the day triumph. The Sharks enter this game on the back of a three-game losing streak, the last time they lost more in succession was a six-game drought in April-May 2015. Elton Jantjies is set to line up for his 100th Super Rugby appearance; the Lions playmaker has scored 67 points in his last six games against the Sharks. Phillip Van Der Walt made 170 tackles in Super Rugby 2017, more than any other player, missing just six further attempts. It is going to be a brutal arm-wrestle, with moments of brilliance thrown in for good measure. To select a winner is tough, but the Lions' record at home and against South African teams (a 17-match unbeaten run dating back to May 2015) means they are slight favourites - and should win by three to five points.
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Albertus Smith, 5 Francois Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Jacobus Adriaanse, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21 Hacjivah Dayimani, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Rohan Janse Van Rensburg.
Sharks: 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Keegan Daniel, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha (captain), 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 John-Hubert Meyer, 18 Tendai Mtawarira, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Daniel du Preez, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Curwin Bosch, 23 Jacobus van Wyk.
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs, Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Marius Jonker
Compiled by Jan de Koning
* Statistics provided by Opta Sports
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: The Lions got off to a winning start in this year's Super Rugby tournament with a 26-19 victory over the Sharks at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Both sides were intent on spreading the ball wide in what was an entertaining game between two South African sides.
The Lions ran in four tries, while the Sharks crossed the whitewash on three occasions.
There were also some late replacements before the game with Marvin Orie replacing Andries Ferreira in the second row for the Lions. Keegan Daniel was a late omission with Daniel du Preez taking over the No.8 jersey in the Sharks side.
The Sharks looked the better of the two sides in the opening stages and sustained pressure in the Lions' half resulted in the men from Durban opening the scoring.
From a line-out deep inside the Lions' 22, the Sharks sent the ball wide and it was new recruit flyhalf Robert du Preez who broke through the Lions' defence to score the opening try in the eighth minute. Du Preez converted his own score.
Despite their lead, the Sharks were struggling in the scrums as the Lions' pack pummeled them up front.
It was one of those scrums which led to a penalty inside the Sharks' half. The Lions chose a line-out inside the Sharks' 22 and from there, the ball went wide with Lionel Mapoe crashing through for a try in the 17-minute, which Elton Jantjies converted for a 7-7 score.
The Lions then took the lead in the 22nd minute when the ball was sent wide to Aphiwe Dyantyi who sprinted down the touchline before sending a neat grubber past the last defender and collecting to score in the corner. Jantjies added the extras for a seven-point lead.
The Sharks finished the half the stronger of the two teams in the first half and they had an opportunity to get some points before half-time with a scrum five metres from the Lions' tryline. However, another strong shove from the home side ensured that the half ended 14-7 in their favour.
The visitors needed to be the first to score in the first half and they did just that when Sibusiso Nkosi went over in the corner in the 42nd minute after some good build-up play from his teammates. However, Robert du Preez hit the upright with his conversion.
The Sharks had the chance to take the lead in the 50th minute after they surprisingly won a scrum penalty. However, Du Preez's penalty kick went wide of the upright.
That missed proved costly as moments later the Lions increased their lead when Andries Coetzee broke through the Sharks' defence on his own 10-metre line and sprinted downfield only to be stopped in the opposition 22. The ball then went down the backline before Lionel Mapoe spotted some space and ran in for his side's third try. Jantjies converted the score and the Lions led 21-12 after 52 minutes.
The seesaw nature of the second half continued when the Sharks hit back two minutes later via a Makazole Mapimpi try. Robert du Preez added the two points and the Sharks were only two points behind with 25 minutes left on the clock.
However, the Sharks hard work was undone once again when the Lions turned on the gas again and they were rewarded when Albertus Smith rolled over for a try after some sustained pressure.
Yet another scrum penalty gave the Lions a chance to extend their lead in the 65th minute, but Jantjies did not have enough distance on his kick from about 45 metres out.
Jantjies had another opportunity to make it a 10-point lead in the 72nd minute, but this time he did not have the direction.
Those misses gave the Sharks a final opportunity to try and force a draw, but they could not make their chances count in the strike zone.
In the last play of the match, the visitors lost the ball forward on attack inside the Lions' 22.
Man of the match: Aphiwe Dyantyi was dangerous with ball in hand and he scored a brilliant try. It was an amazing Super Rugby debut for the young man.
Tries: Mapoe 2, Dyantyi, A Smith
Cons: Jantjies 3
Tries: R du Preez, Nkosi, Mapimpi
Cons: R Du Preez 2
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Albertus Smith, 5 Francois Mostert, 4 Marvin Orie, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Jacobus Adriaanse, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21 Hacjivah Dayimani, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Rohan Janse Van Rensburg.
Sharks: 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha (captain), 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 John-Hubert Meyer, 18 Tendai Mtawarira, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Tyler Paul, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Curwin Bosch, 23 Jacobus van Wyk.
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs, Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Marius Jonker