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Lions' top eight sprint starts against Connacht

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Lions’ potent halfback combination of Jordan Hendrikse and Sanele Nohamba will join forces once more as the men from Johannesburg face Connacht in Round 12 of the United Rugby Championship in Galway, Ireland on Saturday.

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The pair have been in sterling form in recent weeks as Nohamba moved back to his regular position of scrumhalf and Hendrikse aims to impress the national selectors as the general in the backline.

Victory is a non-negotiable for the Lions – currently 11th on the log – as they face the seventh-placed Connacht.

Connacht are one point behind fourth-place Edinburgh, but they are only four points ahead of the Lions which shows how tight it is in the race for the play-offs. Connacht have won their last three games in the URC.

The Lions are a side still chasing a top eight finish to the season and that was helped with a thirty point win at home to South African rivals Sharks (40-10).

Erich Cronje starts at outside centre in place of the injured Henco van Wyk, Stean Pienaar joins the starting 23 and hooker Jaco Visagie is on course for his 50th appearance in the Lions jersey from the bench.

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Players who were not considered due to injury are Ruan Venter, Van Wyk, Corne Fourie and Travis Gordon.

Players on the mend who could be called up to join the squad at a later stage are Gianni Lombard, Ruhan Straeuli, Rabz Maxwane and Rynhardt Jonker.

Lions: 15 Quan Horn, 14 Richard Kriel, 13 Erich Cronje, 12 Marius Louw (captain), 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Jordan Hendrikse, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Emmanuel Tshituka, 6 JC Pretorius, 5 Reinhard Nothnagel, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 2 PJ Botha, 1 JP Smith
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Morgan Naude, 18 Conraad van Vuuren, 19 Darrien Landsberg, 20 Izan Esterhuizen, 21 Hanru Sirgel, 22 Morne van den Berg, 23 Stean Pienaar

Referee: Craig Evans (Wales)
Assistant referees: Robbie Jenkinson (Ireland), Oisin Quinn (Ireland)
TMO: Greg Morgan (Wales)

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