Lions must lift standards again in tight Currie Cup race
Currie Cup / 14 August 2019, 5:04pm / Jacques van der Westhuyzen
JOHANNESBURG – So close is the race to be the top-placed team in this year’s Currie Cup competition that after playing four games each, there’s nothing that separates the Golden Lions and Griquas.
Both teams have won three and lost one game and sit atop the points table with 15 points.
Their points differential is also exactly the same – zero. They have both scored and conceded the same number of points in their four games so far.
It is this closeness in the race for top spot, and to make the top four for a place in the semi-finals, that’s made this year’s competition so exciting.
“It’s very exciting this year, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. We’re taking it one game at a time, but we know every game coming up now is going to matter at the end,” said Sean Erasmus, the former schools coaching guru who this year joined the Lions.
After guiding the juniors in the SuperSport Challenge and in two Under-21 games earlier in the year, he recently took charge of the senior team’s defence in the Currie Cup.
In third spot are the Free State Cheetahs with two wins and 12 points, followed by Western Province, also on 12.
In fifth place are the Sharks, the team the Lions face at Ellis Park in a round-six game on Sunday, with 10 points.
Erasmus, who learnt his rugby in the KwaZulu-Natal schools structure before moving to the Cape and Paarl Boys High, said a big match lay ahead for his team.
“We were disappointing last weekend (in going down to the Blue Bulls) and dropped from the high standards we set ourselves,” said Erasmus.
“There’s a big emphasis on getting it right this week, and we’re looking forward to the challenge. The Sharks are what we’re focused on now; Griquas, we’ll worry about next week.”
Meanwhile, the Lions, already without several national players and the likes of Warren Whiteley, Dylan Smith, Courtnall Skosan and Gianni Lombard, could also be without young stars Vincent Tshituka and Stean Pienaar on Sunday. They are nursing AC injuries and will be tested later in the week.
Prop Johannes Jonker will also undergo a fitness test later in the week after hurting his calf last weekend, while fellow prop Jacobie Adriaanse and flank Cyle Brink will be given until late in the week to prove their fitness.
Centres Jan Louis la Grange and Manny Rass are still recovering from concussion.
Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen will name his team on Friday for Sunday’s 2pm kickoff.