Johannesburg - With two away Currie Cup matches looming, the Golden Lions will be looking to take full advantage of playing at home when they face the Pumas at Ellis Park on Friday.
The Lions are fresh off a confidence-boosting victory over the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth and will have the benefit of continuity after coach Johan Ackermann made only one change to the side.
“The challenge will not get easier. We have two away games after this and if you want any momentum this is quite important,” Ackermann said at the team announcement in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
“We are back at home but the secret of the side over the last few months is that we don’t look too much into the future.”
In the only possible change to the side Anthony Volmink, who started at left wing last week, is bracketed with Sampie Mastriet.
Ackermann’s charges will host the high-flying Pumas who took some of their Vodacom Cup-winning form into the Currie Cup.
The Pumas have gained a reputation as giant slayers and confirmed this over the weekend when they claimed the Sharks’ scalp at home in Nelspruit.
“It is going to be a massive challenge, they played a number of warm-up games, they play off a lot of confidence and they are the Vodacom champs,” Ackermann said.
“If you look at the team sheet and compare it to last year this time they haven’t lost major names and now they have shown again they can play at this level by beating the Sharks. So we are in for a massive challenge on Friday night.”
The Lions also continued where they left off in the Super Rugby competition with a comprehensive 51-14 victory over the Kings.
The Johannesburg-based side scored four of their six tries in the first 16 minutes of the match before adding two more in the final quarter.
Ackermann said this demonstrated his side still had a lot of work to do as they looked to establish themselves among the front-runners in the competition.
“Any victory is a good one and we are glad we started the campaign off with a victory especially the first 16 to 18 minutes,” he said.
“There are a lot of things we can improve on and we need to put that behind us and get ready for a challenge and it might be a big arm-wrestle before anything gives and that is what we are in for.”
The match also signalled the return to form of Lions pivot Marnitz Boshoff, who turned in a flawless place-kicking performance slotting three penalties and six conversions.
“I am pleased for him, I think he is just going to get better as the season progresses because he is a confident and now that he will get more game time,” Ackermann said.
“We saw what he did in week one kicking over from all areas and that is going to be important for any game.”
15. Ruan Combrinck, 14. Courtnall Skosan, 13. Harold Vorster, 12. Howard Mnisi, 11. Sampie Mastriet/Anthony Volmink , 10. Marnitz Boshoff, 9. Ross Cronje, 8. Ruaan Lerm, 7. Kwagga Smith, 6. Jaco Kriel (captain), 5. Martin Muller, 4. Franco Mostert, 3. Julian Redelinghuys, 2. Malcolm Marx, 1. Jacques van Rooyen
Substitutes: 16. Robbie Coetzee, 17. Ruan Dreyer, 18. MB Lusaseni, 19. Steph de Wit, 20. Lohan Jacobs, 21. Stokkies Hanekom, 22. Jaco van der Walt
15 JW Bell, 14 Bernado Botha, 13 Jerome Pretorius, 12 Stefan
Watermeyer (captain), 11 Rosco Speckman, 10 JC Roos, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Lambert
Groenewald, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Marius Coetzer, 4 Giant
Mtyanda, 3 De-Jay Terblanché, 2 Frank Herne, 1 Khwezi Mona
Substitutes: 16 Francois du Toit, 17 Corne Fourie, 18
Jason-Colin Fraser, 19 Jaco Bouwer, 20 Reynier van Rooyen, 21 Justin van
Staden, 22 Hoffmann Maritz