Leopards-Pumas like a 'final'
Johannesburg - A titanic battle awaits the Leopards when they host the Pumas in an Absa Currie Cup rugby match in Potchefstroom, Leopards coach Leon Boshoff said on Thursday.
"The Pumas are a quality side," said Boshoff.
"They are just as desperate as we are to get that first win out of the way so it will almost be like a final."
The Pumas enter Friday's encounter against the Leopards having learnt some valuable lessons from last week's loss to Griquas.
During their 33-40 defeat at the Mbombela Stadium, the Pumas were caught off guard in the first-half and coach Jimmy Stonehouse said that his men will not be making the same mistake this time round.
"We said that we would not underestimate Griquas and that is exactly what happened," Stonehouse said.
"The team's attitude in training changed after that loss and we will be using our second-half performance as motivation for our match in Potchefstroom."
The Leopards showed great improvement despite going down 53-36 to the Lions last week.
Another positive from that match is that they unearthed a gem in flyhalf Wesley Dunlop.
This week Dunlop was selected ahead of regular skipper Clayton Durand with Morne Hannekom named new captain.
"He (Dunlop) brings something different to the team and we all know that he has big match temperament after captaining Tuks to a Varsity Cup final," said Boshoff.
"We now need to convert the improvements from last week into a result that our fans deserve."
In the opening rounds of the competition, the Pumas were within striking distance of recording victories over the Lions and Sharks - going down 31-27 and 23-22 in the respective matches.
Stonehouse feels that they have now reached a cross road in their campaign.
"This is a match we have to win if we are to have as good a season as we know we are capable of having."
Last week Stonehouse told his men that they should view their matches against the fellow smaller unions as tougher challenges than facing the big guns.
His message this week was the same although a new threat could halt their momentum.
"We have been close and that makes it more difficult as the players can become impatient."
Kick-off is at 7pm.
Leopards: 15 George Tossel, 14 Danie Dames, 13 Charl Weidemann, 12 Joubert Engelbrecht, 11 Wynand Willis, 10 Wesley Dunlop, 9 Whestley Moolman, 8 Morn Hanekom (captain), 7 MB Lusaseni, 6 Philip de Wet, 5 Brendon Snyman, 4 Roan van Heerden, 3 Stefan Bezuidenhout, 2 Gavin Williamson, 1 BG Uys.
Substitutes: 16 Brend Botha, 17 Marius Fourie, 18 Christo van Niekerk, 19 Spanner Pretorius, 20 Theo van Wyk, 21 Walter Venter, 22 Clayton Durand.