Lions coach Loffie Eloff says he’s hoping to bore the red-hot Chiefs into losing.
Duncan Johnstone writes for Rugbyheaven that the South Africans line out in Hamilton on Saturday night against the Super 14′s form team, with the Chiefs on a four-match winning streak that has included scoring 113 points in their past two outings.
As he plots a way to try to keep the Chiefs in check Eloff has found inspiration from contrasting areas in a topsy-turvy championship.
He has noted the upsets that have dotted the opening seven weeks of the championship and also seen the way the Sharks managed to muscle up and frustrate the Chiefs when they played them at Waikato Stadium. The Sharks won 22-15 in round three and that was last time the Chiefs lost.
“We have to try and control the tempo of the game,” Eloff told South African rugby website keo.co.za.
“We have to try to make it slow and boring and frustrate them. The Sharks pulled them into an arm-wrestle and then kicked for the corners and we have taken cognisance of that.
“But at the same time we realise the Chiefs are a much different and improved side since then.”
Eloff is certainly right with his last line. Since that loss the Chiefs have gone from steady to sublime, effectively beating the Western Force and Highlanders and then embarrassing the Blues and Reds.
It’s a winning streak that has lifted them to third on the table, the best of the five New Zealand sides.
While acknowledging the Chiefs’ effectiveness Eloff also says there have been enough upsets in recent weeks to keep any team in the championship motivated.
“The Chiefs are the form side of the competition at the moment. But so were the Sharks before they played the Reds and the Bulls before they faced the Highlanders.
“It just goes to show how close the teams are in the Super 14, anyone can beat the other on their day.”
The Lions have shown glimpses of their potential but have only two wins against the Cheetahs and Brumbies and lie 13th on the table.
Eloff wants to build on last week’s narrow 32-28 loss to the Hurricanes in Johannesburg as his team enters a four-week away stint.
“We played well against the Hurricanes, but again there were silly mistakes close to their line,’ he said.
“All of the New Zealand sides will murder you if they get turnovers, so we have to control the ball and not let them run against us.
“We’re not expecting them to kick much, while they should also be very physical.”
The Lions beat the Chiefs in Johannesburg last year in a week 13 result that effectively killed off the Kiwis’ traditional late charge for the semifinals.
Ian Foster’s Chiefs have made their move earlier this year and must now capitalise on that and finish the job. They will view the Lions match as a must-win fixture, given that they still have a road trip looming after next week’s bye.
The Lions have done their buildup for this match in Sydney and will cross the Tasman late in the week for their consecutive matches against the Chiefs and Blues. They then play the Reds and Western Force.Tweet