The football doesn't stop!

The 2014 SWC might be over, but the PSL and English Premiership are around the corner! Have your say on our Forum!


    Lions heavily up against it

    2014-02-11 10:31

    Johannesburg - After spending a year in the Super Rugby wilderness, the Lions may find it difficult adjusting to their new surroundings when they make their re-entry into the competition this weekend.

    The Johannesburg franchise regained Super Rugby status despite losing the second promotion-relegation match against the Kings at Ellis Park where the visitors fell just two points short of the aggregate score after losing their home match in Port Elizabeth.

    The Lions strung together matches with weaker sides earlier last year, in the absence of Super Rugby action, but they will face a completely different challenge this time around against some of the best rugby franchises in the world.

    Dropped from the elite tournament in 2012, the Lions were replaced by the Kings, who performed admirably during their brief appearance in the competition.

    The Eastern Cape franchise gained the respect of rugby supporters around the country but only managed three victories and one draw from their 16 matches.

    While the Lions legitimately earned their right to play in the top-tier competition, they face similar challenges to those of the Kings - a lack of sponsorship and time to build their player depth - which will make it an uphill battle for the Johannesburg side.

    Lions coach Johan Ackermann would not be drawn into making pronouncements on where his team's aspirations lay for the season after receiving a 57-14 thrashing at the hands of a full-strength Sharks team over the weekend.

    "It would be difficult to say, without our best side out there, where we measure up and we'll take it week by week," Ackermann said.

    "I am not going to say that we are going to aim for fifth, sixth or seventh we are just going to play and see where we go."

    The match against the Sharks should not be seen as a true reflection of the Lions' potential as most of their stalwarts were rested for the match.

    Earlier this month, they beat the Kings 19-12 with a team likely to go into battle during the Super Rugby season.

    While the score-line did not instil much confidence, it was nevertheless a side that should be competitive on match day.

    They will receive a baptism of fire when they start their campaign playing the four South African teams.

    The derby matches are often the most brutal of all encounters with the sides out to stamp their authority on the local conference. The Lions open their campaign against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

    After the derby matches, the Lions will host the Blues, Reds and Crusaders before they embark on their tour of Australasia .

    Although the team would no doubt put up a gallant fight, character alone is often not enough against teams brimming with national players.

    Ackermann conceded his side's performance against the Sharks did little to allay fears of a lack of depth but he believed it was an important learning curve for players who had not yet been exposed to top-flight rugby.

    "If you look at the score-line, I am worried but then again in the second half there was a big margin. The guys were shell-shocked in the first half and it took the wind out of the guys," he said.

    "A lot of these guys will be involved in Super Rugby, so we are just going to take all the positives and keep working on that."

    The Lions will rely heavily on players with Super Rugby experience and most of the pressure will rest on the shoulders of Springbok lock Franco van der Merwe and flyhalf Elton Jantjies to anchor the team.

    The acquisition of Pumas centre Stefan Watermeyer and the return of Lionel Mapoe will give the team an edge in the midfield.

    The loose trio of captain Warren Whiteley, Derick Minnie and Jaco Kriel may not possess the physicality of other sides, but they make up for it in terms of mobility.

    Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

    Comment on this story
    Add your comment
    Comment 0 characters remaining
    Live Video Streaming
    • SS3
      Thu, 24 Jul 2014 @04:00
    • SS4:
      Thu, 24 Jul 2014 @05:00
    • SS5:
      Thu, 24 Jul 2014 @06:00
    • Blitz
      Thu, 24 Jul 2014 @07:00
    Video Highlights
    Sport Talk


    26 July 2014
    • Crusaders v Sharks, Christchurch 09:35
    • Waratahs v Brumbies, Sydney 11:30
    02 August 2014
    • TBC v TBC, 01:00


    19 July 2014
    12 July 2014
    11 July 2014
    06 July 2014
    05 July 2014
    04 July 2014
    28 June 2014
    27 June 2014
    31 May 2014
    30 May 2014
    24 May 2014
    23 May 2014
    18 May 2014
    17 May 2014
    16 May 2014
    11 May 2014
    10 May 2014
    09 May 2014
    03 May 2014
    02 May 2014
    26 April 2014
    25 April 2014
    19 April 2014
    18 April 2014
    12 April 2014
    11 April 2014
    05 April 2014
    04 April 2014
    29 March 2014
    28 March 2014
    22 March 2014
    21 March 2014
    15 March 2014
    14 March 2014
    08 March 2014
    07 March 2014
    01 March 2014
    28 February 2014
    23 February 2014
    22 February 2014
    21 February 2014
    15 February 2014


    Rank Team P W Pts


    “Advantage is a great part of rugby, says Tank Lanning, but it allows for lots of personal interpretation, hence Victor Matfield’s tirade. ”

    Opinion Poll

    We're down to four teams left in contention for the 2014 Super Rugby title. Who will be crowned champions?

    Soccer World Cup quiz!

    There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.