JOHANNESBURG – With three wins in the bag it’s almost a certainty the Lions will qualify for the Currie Cup play-offs next month, but getting into the top two positions is the goal as they look to upset the Sharks in Durban this weekend.
Ivan van Rooyen’s team need to hit back quickly after being well beaten by Western Province past weekend.
At this stage of the competition, the Bulls are out in front with 17 log points, but they have played five of their six games. When they return to action on October 12 to face Western Province they could be down in fourth place.
In current second place are the Lions (16 points) - with three wins from four with two games to play - and they’re followed by Province and the Sharks, who both have a three-from-three record for 15 points.
The teams occupying positions five to seven - Griquas, the Pumas and the Cheetahs - are not likely to get into the top four.
A win for the Lions in Durban will move them to first place with a game to play - against the Pumas on October 12. This weekend’s match is a crucial one because the Lions know they’re going to be in for a mighty big match in a few weeks’ time when they have to face the Pumas in Nelspruit.
The good news for Van Rooyen and Co though is that by October 12 the Lions will have their Springbok players back after the Rugby Championship. Here one thinks of Malcolm Marx, Ross Cronje, Warren Whiteley, Elton Jantjies and Aphiwe Dyantyi.
Meanwhile, the Lions are waiting on news from SA Rugby whether scrumhalf Cronje, who hasn’t played much rugby of late and sat on the Bok bench in Wellington, will be available to run out against the Sharks this weekend.
The other Lions players in the Bok squad have all played regularly in recent weeks and will be rested until next week when the national team start preparations in Port Elizabeth for the return match against Australia next Saturday.@jacq_west