Lions make six changes for Blues clash

The Johannesburg-based side is looking to bounce back from a two-match losing run.

The Johannesburg-based side is looking to bounce back from a two-match losing run. Picture: Facebook.

JOHANNESBURG - Lions coach Johan Ackermann on Thursday named his side to take on the Auckland Blues at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday.

The team sheet sees several changes from the side that went down to the Sharks last weekend.

In the forwards, hooker Robbie Coetzee and flanker Willie Britz start in place of Willie Wepener and Warwick Tecklenburg, who drop to the bench.

Backline changes see Marnitz Boshoff return to flyhalf, while Courtnall Skosan, JW Jonker and Coenie van Wyk all start, with Elton Jantjies and Ruan Combrinck relegated to the bench.

Lions captain Warren Whiteley says his side needs to go back to basics in order to return to winning ways after two consecutive losses.

"Super Rugby is a tough competition. Every mistake you make is punished by the opposition putting points on the board. For us, it's about learning from our mistakes, getting our set-pieces right and going back to the fundamentals of rugby. It starts at the scrums and line-outs, and playing in the right areas of the field."

The fixture against the Blues starts a run of four home games in a row for the Lions.

Ackermann acknowledges the home-ground advantage.

"We're excited to play back at home again - it's the first game against overseas opposition. The players know how important the home games are."

Whiteley outlined what his team need to do to claim a win against the Auckland outfit.

"I think the Blues are very good on turnover balls, so we'll have to look after the ball and keep it in hand. Their back three are really exciting, especially with Benji Marshall coming in. Tactically, we'll have to be smart and play in the right areas of the field."

Ackermann backed Jantjies to bounce back following his disappointing performance against the Sharks, adding conditions in Durban played a big part in his below-par display.

"It was a tactical decision. We knew it was going to be humid in Durban and there were also some predictions of rain. Had we not conceded those three easy tries, had we been in the match at the end and had our tactical game worked for us, there would be far less criticism."