Lions captain calls for a deadly first half
IF THE the Golden Lions are to stand a chance of getting the better of the Sharks at Coca-Cola Park tonight they will have to draw on the speech coach Hans Coetzee and captain Cobus Grobbelaar gave the players on the eve of their match against the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld way back back in round one on July 10.
On that occasion the Lions started the clash like the proverbial house on fire, with plenty of commitment and passion which saw them into a 13-0 lead at halftime.
Since then, however, the Lions have started their matches sluggishly, which nearly cost them dearly against the Cheetahs, and against Griquas two weeks ago, it did prove to be their undoing. And things haven’t been any better against much weaker opposition in the Leopards and Boland.
Bar their opening round display, the Lions have battled to get the early upperhand against their opponents and should they not fire from the off today they could be in for a torrid evening’s work.
“We’ve focused this week on starting well ... but it’s not as if it’s something we’re doing wrong as a team,” said Grobbelaar in the build-up to the match.
“It’s just been little individual errors which have let us down in the early stages of our matches. But, yes, we have to make sure we’re not on the back foot again.”
Grobbelaar said the key to getting the upperhand against a side like the Sharks was to ensure the set-pieces operate smoothly. “It all comes down to ball possession and that means ensuring winning the ball in the tight phases.”
While the Lions have functioned fairly effectively at scrum and line-out time this season, they face a big test today against a Sharks side boasting some experienced campaigners.
The promising Lions front row and veteran second row face a tough time but it’s in the back row where matters may be settled. The Lions will need more of a presence at the rucks than Grobbelaar making a nuisance of himself as the visitors possess a potent loosetrio. Will this be the stage when big Lions No 8 Willem Alberts comes into his own?
With no Rory Kockott, Juan Martin Hernandez, Ruan Pienaar or Adrian Jacobs turning out for the Sharks, the battle among the backs will be a fairly even one.
So, Once again, it’ll be a tie that will be settled up front, with the teams’ goal-kickers – Monty Dumond and Herkie Kruger – set to play a pivotal role.