Scrums the key to final battle
Johannesburg - The Emirates Lions know one of the key factors to success in this weekend’s Vodacom Super Rugby final is the performance of their setpiece.
According to the SuperSport website, as they prepare to face the Hurricanes in the Vodacom Super Rugby final on Saturday morning, Johan Ackermann’s side are particularly strong in the setpiece area, where the scrum has laid the platform for the win over the Highlanders in the semifinal and will again be a strong weapon in the final.
And looking at the top New Zealand side, many critics feel that if there is a vulnerability, it could well be in the scrum where the Canes have not been at their strongest this season.
The continuing debate about whether All Black hooker Dane Coles will be available is one thing, but the Lions’ front row have been some of the stars of Super Rugby this season and are pushing hard for higher honours. While the battles will be fought all over the park, having a strong scrum will be the first priority for a Lions pack looking to upset the favourites.
The man at the centre of the battle, tighthead Julian Redelinghuys has been particularly impressive this season in the scrum, and holds the key to the Lions trying to get over the line against some daunting opposition.
And he is pumped – excited beyond belief – at playing in his first Super Rugby final and particularly keen to make sure he comes out on the winning side.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” he told journalists from New Zealand, “We know it may be more of a factor because it is likely to be wet, but we’ve played New Zealand teams in the rain and come out on top – like the Blues – so we are ready for what is coming. We don’t need to change anything, but rather to soak up the occasion and enjoy it.”
Redelinghuys is a big believer in the brotherhood created at the Lions, and while he rates the Hurricanes, believes his side has what it takes to finish the job they started back in February.
“We enjoy each other as a pack, and we help each other. You can see when things go right the amount of high fives in the team, and we work everyday to better ourselves and improve from the previous week. There is a great brotherhood among the guys and we know while we have done well, we’re still not where we want to be.
“The Hurricanes have a good pack – you don’t get into a final if your set phases aren’t good. I rate them highly. We’re ready for a good big fight on Saturday and we know we need to work hard for each other to come out on top.”
Redelinghuys says the New Zealand teams remind you how good they are because their conditioning is so good you can’t afford to stop for a minute in a game.
“They are really fit, and that means you have to play for the full 80 minutes – you saw how the Highlanders scored tries at the end of the game. You can’t afford to drop you game or relax. The Crusaders may have had more All Blacks but they were just as strong as the Highlanders and what we are expecting this weekend. We know they will come with a big onslaught this weekend.”
And while Redelinghuys has done enough to be noticed by the Springbok regulars, even he didn’t think the Lions would make the final when quizzed a few months back.
But this time around the belief is different and the confidence has grown.
And if Redelinghuys and his peers can give the Lions a solid setpiece to work from, they have part of the battle won.
Read the story on SuperSport