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Emirates LionsThe Golden Lions Rugby Union medical staff have released a medical report, ahead of the Emirates Lions’ match against the Toyota Cheetahs and the Xerox Golden Lions’ Vodacom Cup clash with the Leopards on Saturday.

Unfortunately Malcolm Marx (ankle), Steph de Wit (shoulder), Rohan Janse van Rensburg (ankle) and Martin Muller (calf) are all unavailable for selection this week but are still involved in intensive recovery programmes and are making progress.

On a positive note, Mark Richards (concussion), Courtnall Skosan (ankle), Sampie Mastriet (ankle) and Stokkies Hanekom (knee) have all been cleared and are available for selection for either the Emirates Lions or Xerox Golden Lions teams.

Johan Ackermann

Johan Ackermann

Emirates Lions coach Johan Ackermann is pleased with the physical condition of his players after 9 Rounds of Super Rugby action.

The Lions have won 5 of 9 matches this season and sit 7th on the overall standings.

The men from Johannesburg have a welcome BYE this week, with their next match at home against the Toyota Cheetahs on 25 April.

After 9 consecutive games, they only have a few injuries, which leaves Ackermann a happy camper.

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Super RugbyThe Vodacom Bulls held onto their leadership of a ferociously contested South African Conference on a weekend of success at the expense of Australian teams.

The Vodacom Bulls maintained their 2-point advantage over the DHL Stormers on the Log – as both recorded bonus point victories over the Reds (43 / 22) and Waratahs (32 / 18) respectively – while the Toyota Cheetahs showed enormous character to finish their tour on a high in Perth, with a win over the Western Force (24 / 15).

In the South African derby at Emirates Airlines Park, the Emirates Lions underlined the seriousness of their challenge for the Conference title with 2-point victory (23 / 21) over a significantly improved Cell C Sharks, who missed a long-range last-kick penalty, which could have snatched the victory.

The upshot of the weekend was that the Top 4 SA teams are separated by just 4 Log Points – in contrast to their fellow conferences where the Hurricanes top the standings as New Zealand’s Top 4 are spread by 11 points, while an even more clear-cut Australian race sees the Brumbies head a Log in which 17 points cover the Top 4 Australian contenders.

3 Of SA’s winners had to overcome halftime deficits to record victories, with the most notable being those of the DHL Stormers and Toyota Cheetahs who achieved it on Australian soil.

However, the margins were small – both trailed by 2 points – while the Emirates Lions turned round 3 points adrift of the Cell C Sharks, as all 3 teams showed fitness and character to ‘win’ the 2nd half.

In the other match, the Vodacom Bulls’ recent home success over the Reds continued, as they stomped to a 6-try victory, with Francois Hougaard scoring 2 tries from the wing to take his tally to 4 for the season and therefore joining Marcell Coetzee as the leading South African try scorers.

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Super RugbyWith only 2 points separating 4 of the South African franchises on the Vodacom Super Rugby log after 8 weeks of play, Round 9 of the competition will again be crucial for local teams, with the derby in Johannesburg between the Emirates Lions and Cell C Sharks set to attract huge interest from spectators.

The remaining 3 South African sides play Australian opponents on Saturday, with the DHL Stormers taking on the Waratahs in Sydney, the Toyota Cheetahs playing the Western Force in Perth and the Vodacom Bulls closing out a big weekend of rugby in their Pretoria clash against the Reds.

The DHL Stormers will be looking for a 1st tour win against the defending champion Waratahs, knowing that the home side has won 12 of their last 13 matches in Sydney, with a victory margin of 18 points per match.

The Toyota Cheetahs will still be chasing a 1st overseas win in 2015, when they close out their tour against the Western Force at the NIB Stadium in Perth. The Cheetahs have won at this venue in the past, but will have to defend like never before.

They average the most missed tackles in the competition, while the home side maintains the best tackling success rate (90%).

The Emirates Lions host the Cell C Sharks at Emirates Airline Park in the only South African derby of the weekend, which is expected to be a fiercely contested clash. The home team is well aware that a win could push them into 1st place in the South African conference, albeit that the Vodacom Bulls could again overhaul them later in the evening.

The Cell C Sharks will be desperate to put their recent misfortunes behind them and win away from home.

The Vodacom Bulls take on the Reds, who despite not having the greatest of seasons, have a good record against the Loftus Versfeld team, winning 10 of their 16 encounters. Continue reading

Emirates LionsEmirates Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has announced his team to face the Cell C Sharks at Emirates Airline Park this Saturday.

In the forwards, Julian Redelinghuys will start at tighthead for this match. Jaco Kriel also returns to the starting line-up at flank.

Additionally, Ackermann has made 2 changes to his starting backline with Faf de Klerk starting at scrumhalf. Mark Richards is also set to make his Vodacom Super Rugby debut at left wing.

Lohan Jacobs will also celebrate his Vodacom Super Rugby debut should he come off the bench.

The main game will kick-off at 17:05 SA Time. Pirates Rugby Club and Union Rugby Club will play against each other in a curtain-raiser fixture at 13:30 SA Time.

Tickets are still available via Lionsrugby.computicket.com from just R 40.00

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Super RugbyThe Emirates Lions scored a dramatic late try at Emirates Airlines Park to beat the Vodacom Bulls on a weekend where the Johannesburg-based side was the only South African team to register a win in Round 8 of the Vodacom Super Rugby competition.

The losing bonus point secured by the Vodacom Bulls did push them to the top of the South African Conference standings though as they moved past the Cell C Sharks who lost heavily to the Crusaders in Durban.

Both sides have 19 log points, but things are tight in the conference, with the DHL Stormers who were edged out by the Hurricanes in Wellington and the Emirates Lions both on 17 points. The Toyota Cheetahs, who lost to the Brumbies in Canberra, props up the local conference with only 9 Log points.

There was plenty of drama in Durban on Saturday, where a plethora of cards almost made a mockery of the 15’s code. The Crusaders at one stage had 3 players in the bin with Yellow Cards, before Jean Deysel was shown a Red for using his knee on an opponent’s head.

This was the 2nd biggest defeat suffered by the Cell C Sharks in the competition, as this 42 point deficit is 1 less than the 43 points difference they suffered against the Crusaders in 2005, when the home side won 77 / 34 in Christchurch.

The Toyota Cheetahs found little comfort in Canberra, a venue they have never won at.

2 Early tries in the beginning of each half helped the Brumbies to beat the Cheetahs, who failed to cross their opponent’s tryline, with a lone Joe Pietersen penalty the only reward to the central franchise team.

On Friday the DHL Stormers found the home side too slick in the 1st half and could not overhaul the 25 / 3 deficit in the 2nd 40 minutes of play. The Cape side dropped to a 5th consecutive defeat to a New Zealand opponent, the 1st time they have lost 5 in a row in New Zealand since 1998.

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Emirates LionsEmirates Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has named his 23-man side to face the Vodacom Bulls in Saturday’s local Vodacom Super Rugby derby match.

In the forwards, Ackermann has made just 2 changes with Jacques van Rooyen starting at loosehead prop and Andries Ferreira earning a starting berth at lock.

Ackermann has also opted for consistency in the Emirates Lions backline, making just 1 change to his starting outfit. Anthony Volmink will earns his 1st Vodacom Super Rugby start of the year having fully recovered from his long-term injury.

Kick-Off is at 17:05 SA Time at Emirates Airline Park.

Tickets are still available via Lionsrugby.computicket.com from as little as R 40.00.

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Emirates LionsThe Emirates Lions were dealt a setback when it was revealed that lock Martin Muller has been ruled out of Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby clash with the Vodacom Bulls at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg.

Muller sustained a calf tear during his team’s win over the Reds in Brisbane and will be out of the side for Saturday’s clash.

The news has been tempered with MB Lusaseni’s return to action, while Andries Ferreira is also available.

Also ruled out of the clash is winger Courtnall Skosan, with an ankle injury whilst flyhalf / fullback Jaco van der Walt has a fractured cheekbone.

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Super RugbyThe Vodacom Bulls delivered their top performance of the season as the Emirates Lions recorded their best Vodacom Super Rugby tour yet during an exciting weekend of Southern Hemisphere rugby.

The match in Pretoria was the undoubted highlight of the weekend from a quality point of view, with the Vodacom Bulls extending their winning run at home over the Crusaders after winning 31 / 19.

For sheer audacity, the Emirates Lions deserve a lot of plaudits for beating the Reds by 18 / 17 in Brisbane on Friday morning and thus ending their tour on 3 wins from 4 – their best Australasian return yet.

The Cell C Sharks meanwhile moved to the Top of the South African Conference and into the Top 3 on the log with a hard-fought 15 / 9 win over the Force in Durban on Saturday afternoon, scoring all their points in the 2nd half.

The Toyota Cheetahs and DHL Stormers found the going tough in New Zealand though as both went down – the side from Central South Africa by 37 / 27 to the Chiefs in Hamilton and the Capetonians by 39 / 21 to the Highlanders in Dunedin.

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Emirates LionsReds flyhalf Quade Cooper’s last-second drop goal was charged down as his comeback ended in an 18 / 17 defeat at home to the Emirates Lions in Brisbane.

Having already knocked off the Blues and the Melbourne Rebels, the Emirates Lions picked up a 3rd win on their travels this season, with a gritty display.

The game marked Cooper’s return from a fractured collarbone and he showed no ill-effects as his passing game regularly put players into gaps.

That was about the only highlight for the home side for the 1st hour as they struggled to cope with the Lions’ dynamic back row and pace out wide.

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RedsEmirates LionsReds (3) 17 / 18 (8) Lions (Final Score)

The Reds and Emirates Lions did battle in Super Rugby at

Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane at 11:00 SA Time (19:00 Brisbane Time, 20:00 AEDT, 09:00 GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & M-Net on TV in SA.

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Emirates LionsEmirates Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has announced his side to face the Reds in Brisbane on Friday.

In the forwards, Ackermann has made just 1 change for the game, as Robbie Coetzee starts at hooker.

Meanwhile, in the backline, Ross Cronje returns to the starting 15 at scrumhalf. He pairs up with Elton Jantjies who shifts back to flyhalf. Sampie Mastriet shifts to left wing, making way for Ruan Combrinck who starts at right wing.

Harold Vorster returns to the starting line-up at inside centre, while Andries Coetzee starts at fullback.

Kick-Off is at 11:00 SA Time on Friday.

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Super RugbyThe Emirates Lions won their 2nd tour match as the Vodacom Bulls and Cell C Sharks had to dig deep to win at home in an interesting 6th Round of Vodacom Super Rugby.

The men from Johannesburg weathered an early storm and clinched their 3rd successive win over the Melbourne Rebels, by 20 / 16, courtesy of a late try by Lionel Mapoe on Friday in Melbourne. With this victory, the Emirates Lions emulated their feats in 2007 and 2011, when they also won 2 tour matches.

On Saturday, the Toyota Cheetahs started well and were in front at the break against the Crusaders in Christchurch, but the home team took proper advantage of 2 second-half Yellow Cards against the visitors from Bloemfontein to win comfortably by 57 / 14.

2 Matches were played in South Africa on Saturday afternoon, both in less-than-perfect conditions.

First up, the Vodacom Bulls had to rely on a late penalty goal by Handré Pollard to pip the Force by 25 / 24 in Pretoria before the Cell C Sharks, playing for more than 50 minutes with 13 men against 14, following 3 Red Cards, had to dig deep to beat the Chiefs by 12 / 11 in Durban.

The DHL Stormers had a BYE.

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Melbourne RebelsMelbourne Rebels’ head coach Tony McGahan made just 1 enforced change to his side to face the Emirates Lions on Friday at AAMI Park in Round 6 of the Super Rugby season.

Rebels recruits Mike Harris and Dom Shipperley will each make their 50th Super Rugby appearances this week.

Australian Under 20 fullback Jonah Placid, who made 1 Super Rugby appearance before moving to Melbourne, prior to the National Rugby Championship, will make his Rebels debut alongside his half-centurion former Reds teammates.

Jack Debreczeni, who earlier this week appeared on track to play, has been withdrawn with a minor knee complaint, with Harris moving to flyhalf and Placid starting at fullback.

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Emirates LionsEmirates Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has named his team to take on the Melbourne Rebels in his side’s penultimate Vodacom Super Rugby tour match on Friday.

Ackermann has opted to rotate several players for the match.

In the forwards, Schalk van der Merwe, Armand van der Merwe and Ruan Dreyer will make up the front row. Robert Kruger will start at lock, while Derick Minnie has also been promoted to the starting line-up at flank.

Meanwhile, in the backline, Faf de Klerk will start at scrumhalf with Marnitz Boshoff linking up with him at flyhalf. Courtnall Skosan fills the left wing berth, shifting Sampie Mastriet to right wing.

Elton Jantjies will start at inside centre and Jaco van der Walt will start at fullback for the match.

Kick-off is at 10:40 SA Time on Friday.

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Blues vs Lions

The Blues went down to their fourth-straight loss of the Super Rugby campaign on Saturday as they lost 13 / 10 to the Lions at QBE Stadium in North Harbour.

Errors aplenty, low confidence in attack and a failure to turn pressure into points cost the Blues as they crashed to a disappointing home defeat.

Meanwhile, the Lions will take their smash and grab victory with both hands as they head to the Crusaders with a tour win under their belt.

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Super RugbyThe Toyota Cheetahs, Vodacom Bulls and DHL Stormers were victorious in 3 terrific Vodacom Super Rugby matches, as the competition really took off in the 3rd Round.

On Friday evening, the Toyota Cheetahs sneaked home against the Blues in Bloemfontein, winning their 2nd match of the season by 25 / 24 to remain 1 of only 4 unbeaten teams in 2015.

Saturday saw 2 local derbies of the highest calibre, with Test-like intensity. Mirrroing the encounter in Bloemfontein, the results of both these matches were in the balance right until the end.

The Vodacom Bulls prodcued their maiden win of the season when they beat the Cell C Sharks by 43 / 35 in a superb match in Pretoria. Then the DHL Stormers clocked their 3rd win from 3 matches when they beat the Emirates Lions by 22 / 19 in Johannesburg.

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Brent Janse van Rensburg

Brent Janse van Rensburg

The EP Kings have lured Brent Janse van Rensburg from the Golden Lions to replace Omar Mouneimne, as defense coach in Port Elizabeth.

Janse van Rensburg, a former NMMU Madibaz head coach, was released from his current contract by the GLRU following personal reasons.

“Brent approached us and asked us if he could be released from his contract for personal reasons, and he wished to return to Nelson Mandela Bay,” said CEO of the Golden Lions, Rudolf Straeuli.

Straeuli said he wished Janse van Rensburg all the best for his future.

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Andries Ferreira

Andries Ferreira

The Golden Lions Rugby Union announced that they signed more players at the Union as well as the re-signing of 2 Vodacom Super Rugby players.

The GLRU has secured the services of lock Andries Ferreira who has signed a 2-year contract. Ferreira recently returned from a stint in Italy at Pro12 side Zebre but also has previous Vodacom Super Rugby and ABSA Currie Cup experience with the Cheetahs.

Ferreira will join the GLRU with immediate effect and will look to bolster the lock stock at the Union and provide added physicality in the tight 5.

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Marcell Coetzee

Marcell Coetzee

Springbok forward Marcell Coetzee scored 2 tries as the Cell C Sharks defeated the Emirates Lions 29 / 12 at a drenched Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban.

Kick-off was very nearly delayed thanks to the torrential rain that hit Durban throughout Saturday, with only the most dedicated of fans remaining in the Kings Park stands.

The natural expectation therefore was an error-strewn contest with knock-ons galore, but to credit both sides the standard of their handling and execution was better than predicted.

The Lions grew in confidence and stature as the match progressed, doing their damage off the tee through Marnitz Boshoff, but ultimately came up significantly short.

A test of tactical nous in the wet, Springbok halfbacks Cobus Reinach and Pat Lambie both showed real intelligence in their decision-making, a fine example being the build-up to Odwa Ndungane’s try.

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Emirates LionsEmirates Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has named his team to face the Cell C Sharks in Durban on Saturday.

The forwards see several changes as Jacques van Rooyen comes in at loosehead prop. Hence, Schalk van der Merwe shifts to the bench to provide cover. Additionally, Jaco Kriel has been withdrawn due to the recurrence of a groin injury. As a result, Derick Minnie will start at openside flanker and Warwick Tecklenburg is called up to the starting line-up to fill the blindside flank berth.

There are absolutely no changes to the starting Emirates Lions backline for this match.

Meanwhile, on the wood, both Robbie Coetzee and Julian Redelinghuys have recovered from their respective injuries and have been called up to cover the hooker and prop berths respectively.

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Johan Ackermann

Johan Ackermann

The Cell C Sharks may have had a less than auspicious start to their Super Rugby campaign, but they remain one of the fancied teams in the competition.

Lions coach Johan Ackermann, speaking to ahead of his team’s trip to Durban for their Round 2 match on Saturday, said the Cheetahs did not do his team any favours with their surprise 35 / 29 win over the Sharks last week.

On top of that, the Lions were also well below par in their 8 / 22 loss to the Hurricanes.

They are aware the welcome mat won’t be rolled out at Growthpoint Kings Park this week.

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Johan Ackermann

Johan Ackermann

Emirates Lions coach Johan Ackermann has refused to try and reign his players in, continuing to back them despite their frustrating Vodacom Super Rugby loss to the Hurricanes at Emirates Airline Park on Friday night.

Ackermann has defended his team’s inability to score despite dominating every facet of play except the scoreboard, saying the execution and decision-making needs to improve, not the game plan.

The coach staunchly defended his team’s expansive approach and feels they simply need to hone their play better to get the right results.

“Our attack worked for us, the execution let us down,” Ackermann said.

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HurricanesAll fit and available All Blacks in the Hurricanes’ squad are set to suit up against the Lions in Round 1 of the 2015 Super Rugby season.

A calf injury has ended Jeremy Thrush’s hopes of getting his season underway this week however, with the lock returning to New Zealand on Wednesday. He is expected to be available for selection in 4 to 6 weeks, depending on his recovery.

Thrush’s injury has made way for Mark Abbott to grab a starting spot, while his Hawke’s Bay teammate, Geoff Cridge, has flown over to join the team in Johannesburg.

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