JOHANNESBURG - Have the Lions turned the corner? That is the major question they have to answer on Friday evening (kick-off at 7.15pm) when they clash with the dangerous Griquas in a round eight Currie Cup match in Kimberley.
Swys de Bruin’s men ended a four-match losing streak last weekend when they edged the Pumas by a single point at Ellis Park - for their second win out of seven in the campaign.
And they will be desperate to show that result wasn’t a fluke when they face a team that, like them, have also struggled for consistency this season.
Griquas have blown hot and cold in 2017, also winning just twice, but one of those positive results came against Western Province, an indication they are a team that can get it right at any stage.
“We just haven’t been able to put it together from one week to the next and that’s cost us,” said coach Peter Engledow.
For the visitors all eyes will be on returning flanker Kwagga Smith and what his impact might be.
The Lions have had to do without several first choice players, many of whom are running out for the Springboks.
Up to now the suspended Smith, too, but his elevation to the starting team after four weeks out shows just how desperate De Bruin and the Lions are to have him playing.
Smith’s experience could be massive for the Lions, but his leadership and game-breaking skills too.
He really is a player with the ability to get those around him fired up and in place like Kimberley, and against a team that they just pipped in round one, Smith’s performance could be key.
It is not only Smith though who the Griquas boys will have to keep an eye on, but a few other men who’ll be keen for a big outing, too.
Jacobie Adriaanse gets a start at tighthead after only recently joining from the Bulls, while at the back centres Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Harold Vorster have a chance to live up to their billing as one of the more dynamic midfield pairings in the country.
Young flyhalf Ashlon Davids, too, will be keen to continue where he left off a week ago.
Like the Lions, Griquas will be full of running - and you can be sure they’ll score a few tries - but it’s whether they can cut out the mistakes that’ll determine whether they stay in the contest for the full 80 minutes.