Lions turn to Gianni to unlock Glasgow defence

rugby17 May 2024 13:40| © SuperSport
By:Brenden Nel
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Gianni Lombard © Gallo Images

The Emirates Lions will start Gianni Lombard at flyhalf for their crucial Vodacom United Rugby Championship clash against Glasgow Warriors on Saturday.

Lombard, who recently returned from a long-term injury, has struggled to find a regular spot in the side due to the form of both Sanele Nohamba and Jordan Hendrikse.

His return will bring back memories of when he challenged Elton Jantjies a few seasons back for the 10 jersey and the former SA under-20 player has slowly been regaining his confidence ahead of this start.

His elevation to the starting role comes ahead of Sanele Nohamba, who drops to the bench while the team’s captain Marius Louw, who was struggling with a knee niggle, seems to have recovered sufficiently to claim his leadership role in the side.

Interestingly both Hendrikse and Nohamba are on the bench as the Lions look to not only cause an upset against the log leaders, but also keep their URC top eight hopes alive.

A loss will almost certainly end these, while a win will mean they need to beat the DHL Stormers in a fortnight’s time in their final league game to ensure they sneak in via the back door.

While the odds are against them, as well as their own inconsistency to put together back to back performances worthy of a top eight place, the Lions are still hopeful that they can play some of their best rugby at the back end of the competition.


Rabz Maxwane also moves into the wing spot after Richard Kriel was ruled out with a hamstring injury while last weekend’s hero against Cardiff, loose forward Emmanuel Tshituka, reclaims his spot in the starting line-up following his impressive cameo last week.

Tshituka came off the bench with the game precariously poised and scored two tries to secure the win, and claim a crucial bonus point for his side.

Morgan Naude also returns to the front row, swapping with veteran Ruan Dreyer for the match

It is clear the Lions are looking to Lombard to ignite their attack and try and unlock one of the best defences in the league.

Julian Redelinghuys, the team’s scrum coach, pointed to this earlier this week when he described the way the Lions would approach the game.

“They’re a well-coached team and are top of the log; best in the tackling stats, and best in defensive stats,” Redelinghuys said.

“The questions we have are, are they going to stick to their DNA, or try and do what Munster and Cardiff did, which is kick the ball and not want to play too much.”

“From our side, if you rely on the altitude to win a game for you, you’re going to make a mistake. Glasgow didn’t go lay down in the last 20 minutes against the Bulls, they actually made a step up.”

Emirates Lions: Quan Horn; Rabz Maxwane, Erich Cronje, Marius Louw (captain), Edwill van der Merwe; Gianni Lombard, Morne van den Berg; Francke Horne, Emmanuel Tshituka, JC Pretorius, Ruan Delport, Willem Alberts, Asenathi Ntlabakanye, PJ Botha, Morgan Naude.

Replacements: Jaco Visagie, JP Smith, Ruan Dreyer, Reinhard Nothnagel, Ruan Venter, Hanru Sirgel, Sanele Nohamba, Jordan Hendrikse.