Golden Lions player Wandisile Simelane evades a tackle from Kyle Steyn of Griquas during the Currie Cup rugby match at Ellis Park Stadium. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Golden Lions captain Ross Cronje has challenged his team to stay switched on for the full 80 minutes of their matches during this year’s Currie Cup competition.

This follows his team conceding five tries in their 62-41 win against Griquas at Ellis Park last Friday. It was the Lions’ first game in the competition after enjoying a bye in week one.

While the Lions comfortably won the match and scored a whopping nine tries themselves there would have been some concern that the men from Kimberley were able to score five tries themselves.

Scrumhalf Cronje, who led the side in the absence of Springbok No 8 Warren Whiteley, said the Lions would have to stay focused for the full 80 minutes of games in future if they are to be title challengers in 2018.

“There were times that we went to sleep (against Griquas),” said the Bok No 9. “They punished us in those times and you cannot afford to do that in the Currie Cup. We must play for the full 80 minutes.”

New coach Ivan van Rooyen, who has been put in charge of the team during the competition while regular head coach Swys de Bruin works with the Springboks as attack consultant, also said his team would have to jack up their defensive effort this week.

“We’ll have to work on our defence, but you expect (some rustiness) in a first game,” he said. “Overall, there was a lot of excitement out there and that’s a positive for us. To win like we did with such a young team is satisfying.

“When we applied pressure, we got the rewards and capitalised and it was exciting to see how the juniors and the senior performed.”

The Lions kicked off their campaign with several U-21 stars in their ranks, among them centre jan-Louis la Grange and Manny Rass, while Hacjivah Dayimani, Len Massyn and James Venter combined to form a new and dynamic loose-trio.

Flyhalf Shaun Reynolds contributed 17 points with the boot, while experienced wing Courtnall Skosan got himself a hat-trick of tries. Dayimani got a brace in a strong performance.

The Lions are next up against the Blue Bulls in Pretoria this weekend. Pote Human’s team also started their challenge at the weekend but, unlike the Lions who won, they went down 26-10 to the Sharks in Durban.

 It will be interesting to see today whether national coach Rassie Erasmus releases any players from the Bok squad to play Currie Cup rugby this weekend. The Boks are next in action next weekend when they face Australia in Brisbane.

After this last weekend’s performances the Lions will fancy their chances of knocking over the Bulls at Loftus.


IOL Sport

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