Lions reveal Plan B to keep Covid-hit tour on track: Play same opponents again

Owen Farrell in action against Sharks on Wednesday (Image: AFP via Getty Images)

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Warren Gatland’s Lions have struck a deal to play the team they thrashed on Wednesday again on Saturday.

The unprecedented move will allow the tourists to deliver on their eight-match TV broadcast deal after their scheduled opponents pulled out due to a Covid outbreak in their ranks.

The Lions stuck eight tries on the Durban-based Sharks in Johannesburg, with Josh Adams and Duhan van der Merwe each bagging hat-tricks.

Their hopes for a tougher test after easily beating the Sigma Lions 56-14 in their opener were dashed as they ran out 54-7 winners.

The match, which will be staged at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, home of the Bulls, depends on the Lions being given a clean bill of health.

More where this came from: Duhan van der Merwe scored a hat-trick in eight-try thumping of Sharks first time round
(Image: Getty Images)

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Lions MD Ben Calveley said: “We’re very grateful to the Sharks for agreeing to play us again this Saturday at Loftus Versfeld.

“We have further COVID-19 testing scheduled for today and tomorrow. The results of those tests will determine whether we will be able fulfil this fixture, but, as it stands, we are optimistic.

“We remain committed to the Tour in South Africa and determined to rise to the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Warren Gatland: Proud of his players' determination to keep tour going
(Image: Getty Images)

Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby, added: “The choice of the Cell C Sharks was dictated by the fact that they have been in a bubble, have returned negative tests throughout and were prepared to take on the fixture.

“No other team in the country could meet those conditions right now – without going into a five-day lockdown. It is not an ideal situation, but COVID-19 has made sure that we do not live in an ideal world.”

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