Lions 'ready' for WP onslaught
Johannesburg - Lions coach John Mitchell says his side are ready for anything Western Province might throw at them in their Currie Cup semi-final in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Mitchell has proven to be a wily character and he said his team would have a few surprises in their bag of tricks in an effort to outwit the visitors.
"At the end of the day they will come with a lot of resistance but ultimately we are equipped for them and we're ready for it," Mitchell said.
"So it's about us applying what we want to do and we've got some subtle things in our game plan.
"We haven't gone too far away from [our game plan], but we have a few subtle things that we are looking to introduce."
Province will be at full strength after coach Allister Coetzee named six Rugby World Cup Springboks for the clash, with Schalk Burger, Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers, Jaque Fourie, Juan de Jongh and Gio Aplon all included on the team sheet.
"They haven't changed too much from what they've been doing," Mitchell said.
"They're a good attacking side and they are probably less predictable than the other sides because they like to play both sides on attack.
"They are like any side - if they can generate momentum then they can get what they want.
"Clearly their backline would have been strengthened and you can't ignore the impact of Schalk as an individual, but I reckon I have about three of them in the back row, so it is three against one."
Coetzee said it would be important for his charges to hold possession if they wanted to reach the final.
"There are no bonus points at stake in knockout rugby, so it's important that we keep possession," said Coetzee.
"We have selected a quality bench and we've done well this season in terms of bringing on players who make an impact."
The other semi-final tussle will see defending Currie Cup champions the Sharks taking on the Free State Cheetahs in Durban earlier in the day.
The coastal side have the best defensive record in this season's competition, while the Free Staters have the best try-scoring record.
The Cheetahs' attacking ability has not gone unnoticed in Durban with Sharks coach John Plumtree stressing the importance of his team's defence.
"They scored a few against us in Bloemfontein [in the league phase], so we understand that they get very excited about attack and they've got some outstanding attacking players," Plumtree said.
"Obviously that's a huge focus for us in terms of going through [to the final]."
Plumtree, however, said they would not compromise on other areas of their game by giving impetus only to defence.
"We want to attack well, we want our set-pieces to function and we need our kicking game," he said.
"So it's just about getting all the areas good and not one area great and others poor."
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske said, while the Sharks were bolstered by the return of seven returning Springboks, his charges were familiar with their own game plan as they had played together the whole season.
Drotske said it would be key not to give momentum to the Sharks' big ball-carrying forwards like Willem Alberts, Bismarck du Plessis and Jean Deysel.
"There are two important things we need to do against the Sharks," he said.
"First of all we don't want to give players like Willem Alberts and Bismarck momentum and we can't give them turnover ball."