A catfight of sorts will take place when the Lions and the Free State Cheetahs meet in a Currie Cup rugby match in Johannesburg on Friday night.
Hennie Brandt writes in Beeld that valuable log points are at stake in the match between the champions and Cobus Grobbelaar’s home team.
The Cheetahs, who have 26 points, go into the match in third place on the table; one more than the fourth-placed Lions.
The pace-setting Blue Bulls (29) and the Sharks (28) have a bye this weekend, which means the winners of the match at Coca-Cola Park will move into first place, at least temporarily.
The Lions will see the match as an opportunity to get their own back after losing 18-22 in Bloemfontein in their second Currie Cup match of the season. Their inability to finish attacks cost them dearly that day.
However, they got their act together and proved in recent matches against Western Province and the Blue Bulls what they were capable of.
Grobbelaar says the Lions are not thinking about revenge.
“We shot ourselves in the foot in Bloemfontein by missing opportunities, but that’s something of the past.
“We have been playing good rugby because there is continuity. The same players have now played together a few times and it helps a lot,” the captain added.
The battle will be won up front. Both teams have good backs but their effectiveness and penetration will depend on the packs, particularly the tight five on either side.
Without good front-foot possession the playmakers at the back won’t be able to call the shots.
Grobbelaar, the star fetcher in the Lions’ pack, and his opposite number, Hendro Scholtz, also need support to be at their best.
Former Springbok prop Willie Meyer said this week the battle between the front rows would determine the outcome.
He rates loosehead prop Heinke van der Merwe and hooker Willie Wepener highly but also has high regard for the Free State’s props, Cobus Caldo and Wian du Preez.
Lions: Louis Ludik, Michael Killian, Jaco Pretorius, Doppies la Grange, Ryno Benjamin, Earl Rose, Jano Vermaak, Willem Alberts, Franco van der Merwe, Cobus Grobbelaar (capt), Gerhard Mostert, Anton van Zyl, Lawrence Sephaka, Willie Wepener, Heinke van der Merwe.
Substitutes: Ethienne Reynecke, Ross Geldenhuys, Ernst Joubert, Justin Wheeler, Chris Jonck, Louis Strydom and Jaco van Schalkwyk.
Cheetahs: Bevin Fortuin, Wilton Pietersen, Robert Ebersohn, Meyer Bosman, Fabian Juries, Chris Rossouw, Tewis de Bruyn, Duane Vermeulen, Kabamba Floors, Hendro Scholtz (capt), Barend Pieterse, David de Villiers, Kobus Caldo, Richardt Strauss, Wian du Preez.
Substitutes: Riaan Kruger, Phillip Lemmer, Flip van der Merwe, Schalk van der Merwe, Neil Powell, Jacques-Louis Potgieter and JW Jonker.
Referee: Marius Jonker (Saru).
Assistant referees: Francois Veldsman (Boland) and Peet Badenhorst (Lions).
TMO: Michael Cupido (Lions).
Television: Live coverage on SuperSport 1 on DStv.