In early October last year, the Sharks came up against the Lions in the Currie Cup semifinal and lost a game they really should have won.
Craig Lewis writes in the Daily News that this Saturday, the coastal franchise will come up against them again and although it’s not a knockout match this time, another loss for the Sharks could well deliver a knockout blow to their confidence.
The Sharks have made an indifferent start to the season but with four key players returning from the Boks and two from injury this week, a win at home is non-negotiable.
Lions coach Eugene Eloff said he was all too aware how hard it would be to beat the Sharks with the likes of Springboks Tendai Mtawarira, Ryan Kankowski, Ruan Pienaar and Odwa Ndungane back in their line-up.
“The Sharks are obviously stronger having got their Boks back and playing at home it won’t be easy for us,” he said.
“When you get Boks back, they bring with them an aura and a calmness that’s very beneficial.”
After losing their first two matches, the Lions have begun to show signs of resurgent form, a pattern that Eloff said was very familiar.
“It seems it’s the same every year in the Currie Cup. We start slowly and then end well. I’m happy that we are starting to play constructive rugby but we still haven’t played for the full 80 minutes yet and hopefully we will get that right soon.”
This was certainly the case this past weekend when the Lions had the giant-killing Griquas down and out but let them back in towards the death.
“Ja, we played well for 60 minutes against Griquas but then we had a lapse in concentration and conceded a few tries,” Eloff admitted. “We know we have to maintain our intensity levels throughout the match if we want to beat the Sharks.”
Eloff emphasised that their semi-final win last year would count for nought this time around.
“We are not thinking about that win at all. That’s history and it was one of those matches that could have gone either way. On the day we need to perform well and attack and defend constructively.”
For the most part the Lions returned injury free from Kimberley and this Saturday are unlikely to make many if any changes to their starting lineup that includes Springboks Jacque Fourie and Jaco Pretorius.Tweet