Lions have to win the small mo­ments against Pu­mas

Pretoria News - - Sport - JAC­QUES VAN DER WESTHUYZEN jac­ques.vd­west­huyzen@inl.co.za

THE fact the Pu­mas have lit­tle to lose tonight will make them a very dan­ger­ous team, ac­cord­ing to new Golden Lions cap­tain Nic Groom.

The men from Nel­spruit go into their fi­nal round-robin Cur­rie Cup game in fifth place on the stand­ings and only a win will get them into the semi-fi­nals next week. And it is be­cause of this long-shot chance that Groom be­lieves they’ll throw ev­ery­thing into the en­counter.

“The Pu­mas will be in a mood,” said Groom, who’ll lead the Lions for the first time.

“It’s tra­di­tion­ally al­ways a tough game for the Lions and this time the Pu­mas don’t have much to lose. But, this week has been about us and what we need to do to play well and get the win. It doesn’t mat­ter where we are play­ing ... we can’t con­trol the field, the ref­eree, or the crowd.”

With a last-four spot on the line, the match prom­ises to be a high oc­tane af­fair, one the home team will be­lieve they can win.

The Lions have, af­ter all, not been at their best dur­ing the com­pe­ti­tion, suf­fer­ing heavy de­feats to Western Prov­ince (65-38) and the Sharks (3721) be­fore the re­cent two-week break.

“Los­ing like we did to Western Prov­ince was a jolt to the sys­tem, es­pe­cially af­ter play­ing so well at home in Su­per Rugby,” said Groom, who played off the bench in the de­feat on Septem­ber 15.

“To lose like that at home was a shock to the play­ers; it stung.

“So, the time off was ex­cel­lent for us, a real timely break, to think about what hap­pened (in the losses to Western Prov­ince and the Sharks).

“We used the two weeks well, had a big buy-in from all the play­ers and we’re now re­ally look­ing for­ward to see­ing how we go on Fri­day.”

Groom said the Lions would have to win the “small mo­ments” against the Pu­mas for his team to ad­vance to the semi-fi­nals next week.

“The good thing about those two losses be­fore the break is that we learned a few things about our­selves, some­thing you don’t al­ways get when you’re win­ning,” he said.

“What ba­si­cally hap­pened in those de­feats is that we lost the small mo­ments, and for us to win this week, we have to win those key mo­ments. We’re also go­ing to have to be more phys­i­cal and abra­sive in our ap­proach, to give our­selves the time and space we need to play the at­tack­ing brand of rugby we want to play.”

Kick­off in Nel­spruit tonight is 7pm.

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