Johannesburg - With four matches left in the regular Currie Cup competition,
the Golden Lions are bracing themselves for the playoff stages.
The Lions swept past the opposition in their first five matches with
relative ease but had to fight off a spirited comeback by the Blue Bulls in
Pretoria last weekend.
Going into the half-time break with a 30-7 advantage, the Johannesburg side
looked well on their way to a demolition of the Bulls but held on for an
Lions coach Johan Ackermann believes it was a crucial learning curve for his
side which would come in handy during the playoffs.
“In the context of the season you will have those games where the momentum
swings and many of the guys that weren’t involved in Super Rugby learned how to
respond when the momentum swings against you,” Ackermann said ahead of their
match against the Sharks in Johannesburg on Saturday.
“In the playoffs you will have the same kind of scenario, the quality of the
sides are of such a nature that if you lead it doesn’t mean they won’t fight
Ackermann expects another dogfight when the Sharks travel to Ellis Park at
risk of losing their place among the front-runners.
The Sharks are currently in fourth place on the log on 13 points and a
defeat could see the Cheetahs and the Pumas leapfrog past the coastal side
should they win their respective matches.
The Cheetahs occupy fifth place, only a point behind the Sharks, while the
Pumas are in sixth place on 9 points.
“I still believe the Sharks are a quality side that has a wealth of
experience... they are a team with their backs against the wall and they will
be desperate to get their season back on track,” Ackermann said.
“They have too much quality to be underestimated and we can expect a big
15. Andries Coetzee, 14. Ruan Combrinck, 13. Stokkies Hanekom, 12. Howard
Mnisi, 11. Courtnall Skosan, 10. Marnitz Boshoff, 9. Ross Cronje, 8. Fabian
Booysen, 7. Kwagga Smith, 6. Jaco Kriel (captain), 5. Franco Mostert, 4.
Lourens Erasmus, 3. Julian Redelinghuys, 2. Malcolm Marx, 1. Ruan Dreyer
Substitutes: 16. Robbie Coetzee, 17. Jacques van Rooyen, 18. MB Lusaseni,
19. Stephan de Witt, 20. Jaco van der Walt, 21. Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 22.
15. Odwa Ndungane, 14. Wandile Mjekevu, 13. Paul Jordaan, 12. Andre
Esterhuizen, 11. S'bura Sithole, 10. Joe Pietersen, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Philip
van der Walt, 7. Jean-Luc du Preez, 6. Francois Kleinhans, 5. Marco Wentzel
(captain), 4. Etienne Oosthuizen, 3. Gerhard Engelbrecht, 2. Franco Marais, 1.
Thomas du Toit
Substitutes: 16. Monde Hadebe, 17. Dale Chadwick, 18. Dave McDuling, 19.
Daniel du Preez, 20. Michael Claassens, 21. Heimar Williams, 22. Garth April