Lions will stick to attacking plan
THE CAPTAINS: Jaco Kriel and Phillip van der Walt. THERE is a lot more on the line tomorrow – and possibly in the coming weeks, too – than has been the case up to now, but the Lions will stick to their attack-from-all-parts game that has got them into the Super Rugby play-offs for the second year running.
Johan Ackermann’s men will host the Sharks at Ellis Park tomorrow for a place in the semi-finals; the winner going through to meet either the Hurricanes or Brumbies, who meet in Canberra early tomorrow. It is the third meeting between the Lions and Sharks this season, the last coming just last Saturday when Ackermann’s men won 27-10 in Durban.
The Lions are the hot favourites to progress after also beating Robert du Preez’s team in Joburg in the round-robin stage and because they’re playing at home, but there will certainly be more pressure on the hosts tomorrow than at any stage of the season. So will that mean a change in approach perhaps from the Lions, who’ll be desperate to make up for losing the final last year?
“We’ve done the hard part in the sense we’re at home for as long as we stay in the competition so at least we know there’s no travel factor this year,” said Ackermann yesterday.
“Also we can just about bank on the weather being good and the surface being dry ... and that means we can stick to the type of rugby that has brought us to this point. We like playing a certain way and changing now would do us no good. The recipe (of running the ball and looking to score tries) has worked for us and the players are comfortable with it so we’ll keep at it.
“My players are like race horses ... they’ve been groomed and drilled to play a certain way and it would be unfair on them if I asked them to change now. I want them to play with freedom, with intensity and accuracy, from the first minute.”
The Lions have been a try-machine this season, dotting down 81 times so far, and besides their ability to score from anywhere on the field they’ll also hold another advantage over the Sharks: they know what it’s like to be involved in knockout rugby.
Ackermann has stuck with the same team that did duty against the Sharks last week.