Ross Cronjé. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Ross Cronjé. Picture: GALLO IMAGES

They may be at opposite ends on the log in their respective conferences but historically the Brumbies always bring the fight to the Lions at Ellis Park.

Erstwhile overall log leaders the Lions have hit a wobble in their last three matches‚ but they still head the South African conference‚ while their opponents on Saturday have lost their last four matches on the bounce.

The Brumbies‚ however‚ have often bucked the trend‚ even when they have arrived out of form in Johannesburg.

In their last five meetings at Ellis Park‚ the Canberra side have won on four occasions.

The Lions, conversely, have won two of their last three clashes in Canberra.

While the Lions‚ as the South African conference’s frontrunners have much to play for‚ the tourists have nothing to spur them on other than ambition.

There are several players who will want to blip boldly on the radar of Wallabies coach Michael Cheika when he assembles his squad to take on Six Nations champions Ireland in June.

The Brumbies will welcome back flanker David Pocock, who missed the last two matches with injury.

He will make a huge difference at the breakdown and the Lions may need to dedicate "cleaners" to his timely removal from the equation. That may slightly inhibit their attack that has seen them run in a chart-topping 58 tries this season.

The Crusaders have scored 53 tries but have played one match less.

The Lions may have played a match more than the bulk of their Super Rugby opposition‚ but 12 teams have conceded fewer tries this season.

If the Lions’ attack-minded approach may have unintended consequences for their defence‚ the opposite seems to be true of the Brumbies.

The visitors have scored just 28 tries (less than the bottom of the log, Sunwolves) but, significantly‚ have let in just 30 tries.

The match is thus likely to be shaped by either the cutting edge of the Lions’ attack or the resilience of the Brumbies defence. The Lions are therefore likely to alter the match-day 23 that lost against the Highlanders last week.

Hooker Corné Fourie‚ who was spared a trip across the time zones to replace the injured Malcolm Marx‚ is likely to feature on the bench on Saturday.

At the back, scrumhalf Ross Cronjé is to return after a two-month lay-off due to an injury to his rib.

TimesLIVE

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