Vodacom Super 14
Reds wary of running Lions
Johannesburg - The Reds might arrive at Ellis Park as massive favourites against the winless Lions this weekend, but they certainly aren’t taking their task lightly.
With the form halfback combination in the competition in Will Genia and Quade Cooper, the Reds have surprised all and are genuine contenders for a semi-final spot if they keep up their form thus far.
This is why the Lions game is so important to them. A victory away from home is premium and another win will give them two victories on tour - after their 31-10 win over the Cheetahs a fortnight ago.
Reds coach Ewen McKenzie sees his side’s challenge this weekend as “complicated”, and believes the Lions approach in spreading the ball wide at all costs poses some interesting similarities between the two sides.
"They're actually a team that's not dissimilar to us. They've been at the wrong end of the competition and they've certainly experimented and tried to play a lot of rugby this year," McKenzie said in a team statement.
"They've got amazing statistics in terms of how much they move the ball and how many metres they run with the ball.
"They haven't got the wins yet but they'll be confident that'll be just around the corner so we've got to make sure we knuckle down and defend well, because they have got some very creative attackers and they'll be using that.
"But they've still got the driving game that we saw against the Sharks and they've scored a lot of tries through their driving play.
"They use the width of the field and they use their direct play so it's a complicated game."
While the Reds lost to the Sharks, they did pick up two bonus points in Durban, including one for four tries thanks to Cooper’s vision on attack. Still, while they failed to defend the rolling maul – something the Lions will undoubtedly use to their advantage this weekend, the Reds are confident they will have the home team’s measure on the field.
"There are plenty of things we can work on - the obvious things like maul defence will certainly come into the training program - but there's just some subtle detail around our attack and our communication which we need to tidy up that was exposed in the game.
"We'll just tidy up areas, they're not big ticket items."
“As much as we got two points out of the game we look at it as we've missed three points that we could have got if we'd won it," he said.
"We weren't content. It was a missed opportunity for us and we need to turn that around this week."