Super Rugby: Lions v Blues preview
Last Updated: 14/03/14 2:52pm
The Lions host the Blues at Ellis Park on Saturday with both sides looking to get back to winning ways.
The Lions have already won twice so far this season but found the Sharks too good at Kings Park last time, while the Blues lost 38-22 at the Bulls.
Having faced local opposition in their first four Super Rugby outings, the pride of Johannesburg will finally take on an international opponent after missing out on the action during the 2013 season.
They will be up against a Blues outfit that will be desperate to return to Auckland with some points to show at the conclusion of their two-week tour, while the physical demands that the New Zealand sides present should give the Lions's coaching staff a better idea of just how well conditioned the group of fairly inexperienced players are.
The Lions have tweaked their backline with Marnitz Boshoff shifting from full-back to fly-half where he replaces Springbok Elton Jantjies.
Boshoff's accuracy with the boot was the key factor in his team's solid start to the season, but against the Blues his one-on-one defence is likely to be under the spotlight.
Having struggled with their set-pieces in recent times, the Blues are likely to rely on their enterprising backline players to pierce holes through what has been an impressive Lions defence.
To add to the potency they have at the back, former league player Benji Marshall will make his first start of the season, lining up at full-back in a Blues side featuring five changes to the one that lost to the Bulls last week.
Charles Piutau moves from full-back to wing to accommodate Marshall as youngster Tevita Li drops out of the side.
Pita Ahki is rewarded after scoring a try last week with a start at second five-eighths in place of Jackson Willison, who moves to the bench, while Chris Noakes replaces Simon Hickey at first five-eighths.
Lions: 15 Van Wyk, 14 Jonker, 13 Van Rensburg, 12 Watermeyer, 11 Skosan, 10 Boshoff, 9 De Klerk, 1 S van der Merwe, 2 Coetzee, 3 Redelinghuys, 4 Mostert, 5 F van der Merwe, 6 Kriel, 7 Britz, 8 Whiteley.
Replacements: 16 Wepener, 17 Fourie, 18 Dreyer, 19 Lusaseni, 20 Tecklenburg, 21 Cronje, 22 Jantjies, 23 Combrinck.
Blues: 15 Marshall, 14 Halai, 13 Moala, 12 Ahki, 11 Piutau, 10 Noakes, 9 Weepu , 1 Woodcock, 2 Parsons, 3 Faumuina, 4 Tuipulotu, 5 Donnelly, 6 O'Connor, 7 Braid, 8 Luatua.
Replacements: 16 McCartney, 17 Prattley, 18, Ta'avao, 19 Moli, 20 Manihera, 21 Hall, 22 Hickey, 23 Willison.
You can see all the action from Johannesburg as the Lions take on the Blues live on Sky Sports 2HD from 12.55pm on Saturday.
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