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Bloemfontein – Title holders the Golden Lions are expecting a strong challenge from underdogs Griquas as the hosts look to bolster their top spot in the Currie Cup competition at Ellis Park on Friday.
The Lions have won two of their first three encounters in the early stages of the domestic campaign, and while Griquas have yet to win a match, they have led all of their games until half-time, with only their inability to finish breaking their stride.
“They are a quality side that can beat anyone on any day,” said interim Lions coach Johan Ackermann.
“Yes, they have lost three in a row, but they were sitting pretty till half-time in all their encounters and just couldn't close out.
“They are always a dangerous outfit, no matter what.”
Ackermann backed regular flanker and former Lions skipper Joshua Strauss, who packs down at lock for the clash.
“Josh played some good rugby when he was moved to lock against Western Province,” he said.
“We are looking for more of the same from him against Griquas.
“And of course there is his ability with the ball in hand that will also play a pivotal role.”
Griquas coach Pote Human said his players were in need of a victory to relieve some of the pressure.
“We know that it is crunch time. There is already talk of a promotion and relegation match, but we choose to focus on the job at hand,” Human said.
“The last couple of games we fell into a slump after half-time.
“We can ill-afford that against the Lions. We need to be in the driver's seat from the get go and stay there for the full 80
Despite their recent failures, Human believed Griquas had been solid in set pieces.
“We are happy with where we are with regards to our scrums and lineouts,” he said.
“They do give us solid platforms to attack from, but the main thing is we need to play the full 80 minutes.
“If not, it is going to be a long and difficult evening.”
On Saturday, the Sharks host the Free State Cheetahs in Durban and Western Province, who need a win to close the gap on the top four in the standings, are at home to the Blue Bulls in Cape Town. – Sapa