Cape Town - Former Springbok and Golden Lions hooker James Dalton believes the Golden Lions superior scrum will lay the foundation for a victory in the Absa Currie Cup against Western Province at Newlands on Saturday.
“I am living in Cape Town now and when people hear this, they are perhaps going to throw stones and tins at me, but I believe it is going to be a Lions victory,” Dalton quipped in an exclusive interview on Monday.
The fiery hooker, also known as “Bullet” in his playing days is convinced the Lions will have the upper hand in the set pieces.
“I have to say this as a forward, if you look at the Lions scrum and their lineout, they are probably the most consistent side in the competition in terms of lineout and scrum dominance at the moment.
"I was at the semi-final at Ellis Park against the Sharks.The Lions annihilated the Sharks at scrum-time. I really do believe that Province’s starting line-up in terms of their front row, is definitely going be vulnerable.
“But again, scrumming is a mind-set. So if you’re prepared in the game with the idea that you have to scrum well, then you are able to do it. But if not then Province can most certainly expect to find themselves on the back foot,” he warned.
He says he moved to Cape Town four months ago because of family reasons. He is enjoying the beauty and atmosphere in the Mother City.
“I can’t complain about the scenery. Wherever I go it is like a new experience and I really feel like a tourist. My partner, Claire is originally from Cape Town. We’ve got two kids and it’s just a new beginning for everybody,” he explained.
The 1995 World Cup winner feels both teams are very deserving of playing in the final because he feels they are the two best performing sides in the Currie Cup.
“Everyone knows I’m a Lions man. They have been playing a great brand of rugby this year and it’s been amazing. They play the ball wide and their backs run nicely onto the ball. Province has also shown some good continuity in their play.
"But in finals it’s all about the side that makes the least amount of mistakes on the day and of course they have to use the opportunities that come their way.”
The veteran of 43 tests believes Lions coach Johan Ackermann clearly has the ability to gel players to play a good brand of rugby, which has brought lots of confidence to the team.
“We all know the saying that there is “no I in Team.” You can be an amazing rugby player, but with no confidence when going into battle, or you can have average talent, enormous confidence, good friendships, great team spirit which brings out the best in the team.”
Dalton believes the Lions should play the brand of rugby that has worked for them for the whole season. They haven’t scored the most tries thus far in the competition for nothing.
“If you try to restrict the Lions to a more conservative style of play, it’s not going to work. You can’t change that one week prior to a final. They believe in their brand of rugby. It’s worked for them. The opposition is only as good as you allow them to be.
“And with that quick style of play that the Lions have adopted, it minimises the other side’s ability to enforce their game plan. In cricket they say catches win matches, but I believe in rugby, tries win matches,” he concluded.