JOHANNESBURG - The fact that the Pumas have little to lose tonight will make them a very dangerous team, according to new Lions captain Nic Groom.
The men from Nelspruit go into their final round-robin Currie Cup game in fifth place in the standings and only a win will get them into the semi-finals next week. And it is because of this long-shot chance that Groom believes they’ll throw everything into the encounter.
“The Pumas will be in a mood,” said Groom, who’ll lead the Lions for the first time in the match that will be played at the Mbombela Stadium. “It’s traditionally always a tough game for the Lions and this time the Pumas don’t have much to lose. But, this week has been about us and what we need to do to play well and get the win. It doesn’t matter where we are playing ... we can’t control the field, the referee, or the crowd.”
With a last-four spot on the line, the match promises to be a high octane affair, one the home team will believe they can win. The Lions have, after all, not been at their best during the competition, suffering heavy defeats to Western Province (65-38) and the Sharks (37-21) before the recent two-week break.
“Losing like we did to Western Province was a jolt to the system, especially after playing so well at home in Super Rugby,” said Groom, who played off the bench in the defeat on September 15. “ To lose like that at home was a shock to the players; it stung.
“So, the time off was excellent for us, a real timely break, to think about what happened (in the losses to Western Province and the Sharks). We used the two weeks well, had a big buy in from all the players and we’re now really looking forward to seeing how we go on Friday.”
Groom said the Lions would have to win the “small moments” against the Pumas for his team to advance to the semi-final next week. “The good thing about those two losses before the break is that we learned a few things about ourselves, something you don’t always get when you’re winning.
“What basically happened in those defeats is that we lost the small moments, and for us to win this week, we have to win those key moments. We’re also going to have to be more physical and abrasive in our approach, to give ourselves the time and space we need to play the attacking brand of rugby we want to play.”
The match is scheduled to kick off at 7pm.