Lions’ thumping 'irrelevant'
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town – Western Province coach Allister
Coetzee appears to have avoided being suckered into any belief that a climate
of despondency has enveloped the Lions camp ahead of the Absa Currie Cup
semi-final at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday (17:00).
The Lions, fielding a starting XV at less
than full strength, were trounced 53-9 by the Sharks in their final round-robin
fixture in Durban last weekend, although their table-topping status was already
Nevertheless, the score-line may not have
been quite what coach John Mitchell had in mind, and there could be a case for
suggesting, if the Lions fall at the semis hurdle, that it represented a knock
to confidence at the business end of the season.
Coetzee, however, is reading nothing into
the magnitude of the reverse at Mr Price Kings Park.
“I don’t see too much in that,” he told
Sport24 on Wednesday. “I think under the circumstances John wanted to give some
other players an opportunity for game-time, and view the playoffs as a
completely different entity to the round-robin competition.
“We’re talking knockout phase now, and he’s
got his first-choice side to play against us.
“We did spot a few things we could take on
board from that game, though, which could help our cause.”
Asked if the various Springboks returning
from the World Cup to domestic duty had flushed out their disappointment of
exiting at the quarter-finals, captain Schalk Burger replied with a twinkle in
an eye: “Yes, I hope so. There have been one or two nightmares, restless
nights, which maybe we can attribute to jetlag ...
“Of course there’s the sore-heart aspect
(from RWC 2011) but luckily there’s a fantastic opportunity to play in a
semi-final here for Province and I look forward to the weekend.
“We’ve worked ourselves into a position
over the past three years or so to be competitive in the (knockout phases) and
this game isn’t any different – we’ll have to play well at their home venue;
the Lions didn’t top the log for nothing.”
The hosts beat WP 42-25 in Johannesburg
very recently, but in mid-August Province did briefly arrest their surge to top
place with a hard-fought 28-26 triumph at Newlands.