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Lions get some serious muscle back for final dash

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Lions take on Welsh side Cardiff in a crucial Round 16 United Rugby Championship match at Ellis Park on Saturday.

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Fullback Quan Horn, who missed out against champions Munster in Round 15, makes a welcome return to the starting XV and with that, a 50th cap for his franchise.

Popular front row forward Asenathi Ntlabakanye returns to the tighthead position, after serving his ban.

Ntlabakanye faced a disciplinary hearing after being red-carded in the Lions’ 36-14 United Rugby Championship win over Connacht at the Sportsground in Galway.

He was slapped with a three-game suspension – with one of those added to the three-match discount he has already received, after he completed ‘tackle school’.

Springbok Ruan Dreyer starts at loosehead prop.

A new-look back row sees the injection of the powerful Ruan Venter in concert with JC Pretorius and Francke Horn.

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The explosive Emmanuel Tshituka will be tasked to provide impact from the bench.

The team’s forwards and line-out specialist Barend Pieterse believes consistency from his side over the next three games will enhance their play-off chances as the race to the top-eight intensifies.

“We need to get as many points out of this week’s game, and then again next week,” Pieterse said.

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“But the top-eight dream is still alive for us, and that’s genuinely something that we talk about and train for every day,” he added.

Lions: 15 Quan Horn, 14 Richard Kriel, 13 Erich Cronje, 12 Marius Louw (captain), 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Sanele Nohamba, 9 Morné van den Berg, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Ruan Venter, 6 JC Pretorius, 5 Ruan Delport, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 2 PJ Botha, 1 Ruan Dreyer.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 JP Smith, 18 Conraad van Vuren, 19 Reinhard Nothnagel, 20 Emmanuel Tshituka, 21 Hanru Sirgel, 22 Jordan Hendrikse, 23 Gianni Lombard.

Date: Saturday, May 11
Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 18.15 (16.15 GMT; 17.15 IRE & UK time)
Referee: Eoghan Cross (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron (South Africa) and Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)
TMO: Frank Murphy (Ireland)

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