Lions to face Sharks rematch after Bulls postponement

By Sports Desk July 08, 2021

The British and Irish Lions will face the Sharks for the second time this week after the scheduled clash with the Bulls was postponed.

Warren Gatland's men were due to take on the Bulls in their third match of the trip on Saturday, but that match was called off due to coronavirus cases in the Pretoria-based franchise's squad.

Instead, the tourists will do battle with the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld, just three days after hammering them 54-7.

SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux said: "The choice of the Sharks was dictated by the fact that they have been in a bubble, have returned negative tests throughout and were prepared to take on the fixture.

"No other team in the country could meet those conditions right now – without going into a five-day lockdown. It is not an ideal situation, but COVID-19 has made sure that we do not live in an ideal world."

Lions managing director Ben Calveley said: "We’re very grateful to the Sharks for agreeing to play us again this Saturday at Loftus Versfeld.

"We have further COVID-19 testing scheduled for today [Thursday] and tomorrow. The results of those tests will determine whether we will be able fulfil this fixture, but, as it stands, we are optimistic.

"We remain committed to the tour in South Africa and determined to rise to the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic."

Lions head coach Gatland insisted he is not concerned about the viability of the tour despite a coronavirus outbreak hitting his squad just hours before their midweek drubbing of the Sharks.

South Africa were due to do battle with Georgia but COVID-19 cases in both camps put paid to that fixture just a fortnight before the first Test against the Lions.

The Springboks playing and management group returned 12 positive tests this week, with Georgia returning four. 

Related items

  • South Africa pulls out of tri-nation series with Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago South Africa pulls out of tri-nation series with Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago

    Jamaica’s Sunshine Girls could be forced to make adjustments for next month’s tri-series following the reported withdrawal of South Africa from the tour.

    Originally, the series was set to feature the no 4 ranked Jamaicans, 5th ranked Australians and 10th ranked Trinidad and Tobago and was set to tip-off on October 9th.  However, negotiations between Netball South Africa and the Jamaica Netball Association (JNA) are said to have broken down due to the island’s rising number of Covid-19 cases.

    The JNA is expected to give an update on the situation in the next few weeks with a replacement team being added being another possibility that is being looked at.

    The series will be the first for the Jamaicans since the Netball World Cup in 2020, the team is, however, also expected to travel to England, in September, where they will face the England Roses in a three-match series.  The Sunshine Girls had been due to face England in January of this year, but those plans were postponed due to then-existing Covid-19 travel restrictions.  The team will be looking to vastly increase its activities in the coming months with the Commonwealth Games scheduled for next year.

  • 'It's a major concern' - WI Women's team coach Walsh insists better strike rotation a priority 'It's a major concern' - WI Women's team coach Walsh insists better strike rotation a priority

    West Indies Women’s coach Courtney Walsh admits the team’s inability to properly rotate the strike was a disappointment during the recent series against South Africa, as it had been a key area of focus ahead of the games.

    The regional team just managed to avoid being on the wrong end of a sweep, after winning the final game of the series in a super over.  The 4-1 scoreline was, however, an accurate reflection of the fact that the West Indies Women had struggled to keep pace with the South Africans for the great majority of the One Day Internationals.

    One of those key areas was putting runs on the board, with the Windies Women on many occasions looking bogged down by South Africa’s bowling, before being dismissed after ill-advised shots.  On four occasions the team struggled to get to one 150, a target that seemed an easy reach for South Africa.

     “It’s a concern, the rotation of the strike, it’s something we’ve been talking about since the start of the camp but it was highlighted much more against South Africa,” Walsh told members of the media.

    “In terms of just hitting the fielders and not being able to find gaps, not being able to play with soft hands and we have identified that,” he added.

    “It has been an ongoing discussion before the series and it was one area I was disappointed in that we did not try to show that (strike rotation) because leading up to the series we had been practicing it, but match-day when we get out in the middle it wasn’t done.  We just kept picking out the fielders.  It’s the sort of the thing you have to do in 50 over games if you want to really compete and it has to be addressed.”

     

  • The Rugby Championship 2021: The Breakdown - All Blacks on brink of title ahead of 100th Springboks showdown The Rugby Championship 2021: The Breakdown - All Blacks on brink of title ahead of 100th Springboks showdown

    New Zealand are on the brink of landing the Rugby Championship title ahead of their 100th Test against holders South Africa in Townsville on Saturday.

    The All Blacks have been in a class of their own, taking maximum points from four matches to put one hand on the trophy and replace the world champions at the top of the rankings.

    South Africa are smarting from back-to-back defeats to Australia, leaving them 10 points adrift of the leaders with two games against Ian Foster's side to play.

    Australia are just a point behind the Springboks ahead of their clash with Argentina this weekend.

    Here, we use Opta data to preview the double-header at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

     

    NEW ZEALAND V SOUTH AFRICA

    Form

    There appears to be no stopping New Zealand at the moment, with their winning run standing at nine matches following back-to-back defeats of Argentina.

    The last time the All Blacks enjoyed a longer winning streak was in October 2016, when they completed a run of 18 on the spin.

    South Africa, on the other hand, are two without a win and have not had a worse run since losing four in a row from October to November five years ago.

     

     


    Ones to watch

    Akira Ioane is one of eight New Zealand players to be facing South Africa for the first time. Starting at blindside flanker on Saturday, his potency in the Springbok half could be key – only Jordie Barrett (nine) has beaten more defenders in opposition territory than Ioane (eight) in the 2021 competition.

    Lood de Jager is back following concussion to reunite with Eben Etzebeth in the Springbok second row. They, along with Argentina's Guido Petti, are the only players to have stolen multiple lineouts at this year's tournament.

    AUSTRALIA V ARGENTINA

    Form

    Australia are on a high after two impressive wins over South Africa, playing some entertaining rugby in a 30-17 bonus-point win in Brisbane last weekend.

    Argentina are rooted to the foot of the table without a point from four matches, with a points difference of minus 101.

    Each of the last two Tests between these nations ended in a draw. Only once in Test history have any tier one nations drawn three in a row (England vs France from February 1959 to February 1961).

    Ones to watch

    Australia captain Michael Hooper tends to enjoy facing Argentina: his most recent five home Tests against the Pumas have yielded a personal haul of four tries and one assist.

    Argentina's best hope of springing a surprise could rest on the shoulders of Marcos Kremer, who is the only player in this championship to have registered more than 30 in both carries (31) and tackles (48). Another big showing from flanker Kremer might give the South American side a sniff.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.