The Lions do not intend to serve as a Saturday snack when the take on the Sharks in a Currie Cup rugby semifinal in Durban this weekend.
Hennie Brandt writes in Beeld that the Sharks, without their Springboks, beat the Lions 16-11 in a league-phase match in Durban earlier this season. A couple of weeks ago, with their internationals back in the team, they struggled to win in Johannesburg.
Their 34-20 victory was largely the result of a 14-point donation from Earl Rose. Two poor tactical kicks by the Lions flyhalf, who also missed several kicks at goal, gave the Sharks two converted tries that enabled them to win.
Wimpie Vermeulen, who coaches the Lions’ backline, is confident that Rose will play well this week.
Vermeulen will be spending time with the young player during the week to tune his mental approach, as he did before last week’s match against Western Province.
“I’m sure Earl knows what to do in a semifinal,” Vermeulen said on Monday. “The large number of Springboks in the Sharks team does not worry our players; they see it as a challenge.”
Expect them to come up short
Rose is an unpredictable game-breaker but he will have to remain calm and take the right decisions this time.
The Lions beat the Sharks in their semifinal in Durban last season before narrowly losing to the Cheetahs in the final but most people expect them to come up short this week.
Leon Boshoff, who coaches the forwards, says their underdog status suits the Lions.
“It is to our benefit that no one thinks we have a chance. It was the same story last year.”
Boshoff says the Lions will have to disciplined to avoid conceding penalties, especially at breakdown points.
“We can’t make the same mistakes we made against them last month, when they capitalised in the last twenty minutes,” he said.
Boshoff regards the Sharks as a nicely balanced team and says they have been playing consistently well.
Lions coach Eugene Eloff received good news on Monday when he learnt that the ankle injury left wing Trompie Nontshina had suffered at Newlands last weekend was not serious.
Lock forward Anton van Zyl, who returned from Cape Town with a finger injury, will also be fit on Saturday.
Hooker Willie Wepener, who was taken off with an ankle injury during the match against WP, has seen a specialist. He should know by Wednesday what his chances of playing are.Tweet