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The Stormers are heading down to Johannesburg for their action-packed clash against the Lions this coming Saturday.The Stormers and Lions are respectively in first and second place on the South African conference log.Overall the Lions are keeping strong in second place. They are currently on the heels of the Crusaders who are -in fact on top of the overall log. The Crusaders defeated the Lions during a thrilling match 8-14 last weekend.On the other hand, the Stormers lost against the Bulls in an unexpected turn of events last weekend, and are looking to turn things around.Stormers Head Coach Robbie Fleck said that his team will give everything at during their match against the Lions.“This match is a great opportunity for us as a team and we are looking forward to the challenge,” he said.The Lions have a relatively unchanged team for their clash against the Stormers. Wing Ruan Combrinck will replace Sylvian Mahuza who in turn, drops to the bench. Marvin Orie also returns while, on the bench, Johannes Jonker comes in for Jacobie Adriaanse.The Brumbies will be wondering how on earth they’ve fallen so far behind the rest of their Australian counterparts. The Canberra-based side is 11 points off the top of the Aussie conference in the fourth position and 11th in the overall Super Rugby standings.So far this season, the Brumbies have lost all three of their derby encounters. Starting against the Reds this week, they have to make a statement in the three return derby fixtures in order to stay relevant in this conference and contend for the playoffs.In round three, the Reds were 18-10 victors in an ill-disciplined affair thanks to three penalties apiece by halfback-axis Jono Lance and James Tuttle. On the evidence of that game, you’d say the Brumbies have to improve defensively, but several other aspects of their game have deteriorated rapidly since then.Their attack is non-existent. They’ve made the fewest clean breaks (45) and beat the fewest defenders (91). And with a 57% success rate, the goal-kicking of Christian Leali’ifano, Wharenui Hawera, and Chance Peni is also well below par.The outcome of this contest could be a defining point in the Brumbies’ season.The Reds have just one more win than the Brumbies this year, but unlike the Canberrans, there are more than enough positive signs to suggest they are an improving outfit.This could potentially be the most important fixture in the South African conference. The Lions’ form has come into sharp focus following underwhelming performances in their last four matches, which resulted in three defeats and an unconvincing win against the Sunwolves. Questions are being raised about new head coach Swys de Bruin’s tactics and the senior players’ newfound inability to step up when the pressure is on; while there is also growing concern about their overall chances of reaching a third consecutive final. After their horror three-match tour of Australasia, the Stormers returned to Cape Town where they beat the Blues and Reds before slumping to a 10-point loss against the Bulls at Loftus last weekend. Despite their mixed results, the Lions are still at the top of the South African conference log, seven points clear of the next-best Stormers. Coming off demoralizing defeats, both teams will be looking to return to winning ways.The hosts have welcomed back right-wing Ruan Combrinck after a long absence due to injury.The Lions have two Boks in their pack, while the Stormers have the luxury of five Test-capped forwards in their starting XV. It’s worth noting that the Lions are on a 17-match winning streak against South African teams and have not lost to a local side at Ellis Park since 2015 when, incidentally, the Stormers beat them 22-19.All things considered, it’s probably fair to make Lions the favorites to pull off a win. Whatever the outcome, expect a physical, explosive contest at Ellis Park, one which can make or break either team’s season.

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