Dane Coles
Dane Coles

The last thing the Lions should do in the build-up to their Super Rugby semifinal against the Hurricanes at Ellis Park on Saturday is look at their record against the defending champs.

They have not beaten the Hurricanes since 2007‚ boasting just one win at Ellis Park over the team from Wellington.

More recent history has been as damning.

The Lions lost away to the Canes in atrocious conditions in the 2016 final, but the game that will resonate more occurred in the league stages at Ellis Park in 2016. Then, the Lions’ inability to assert themselves at the ruck cost them dearly as they were crushed 50-17.

Back-rowers Ardie Savea and Victor Vito ran amok‚ while Brad Shields‚ a lock-cum-flank‚ was brutish in cleaning up the rucks‚ an element Lions assistant coach John Plumtree has already recognised as integral to the Hurricanes battle plan on Saturday.

The Lions are well aware of their shortcomings that humiliating evening.

The Canes applied a suffocating defence and rattled the hosts in contact and on the deck.

While taking valuable lessons from that game‚ the Lions will point to the fact that eight players who started then will not line up on Saturday. They are a more mature side now‚ more adept at rolling with the punches.

They were unconvincing against the spoiling tactics of the Sharks‚ but at least they will be up against opponents who most resemble them in the New Zealand conference.

The Hurricanes too are explorers and exploiters of the wide open spaces‚ which perhaps explains why these two teams are the top try scorers in the competition.

What is less discussed about these two sides is the fact that they both rank in the top three for the fewest tries conceded.

The Hurricanes are likely to have regular captain Dane Coles back in the starting team.

The hooker returned off the bench last week after sitting out with concussion since March.

Centre Vince Aso may also get the nod, freeing up Jordie Barrett to return to his preferred fullback slot.

TimesLIVE

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