Could this be the last Super 15 preview for the Lions as we currently know them to be for some to come? A question that is almost as daunting as the prospect of taking on the Bulls at
Loftus on Saturday.
The Lions have now reached their final Super Rugby game of 2012 and find themselves in the utterly ridiculous position of not knowing what fate lies ahead of them in less than 7 month’s time. The Bulls won’t be giving a crap about that right now, their fate is crystal clear to them. All they will be interested in is smashing past us and gaining a bonus point win – nothing less.
The Lions won last week and the Bulls got hammered, but make no mistake – if the Lions think that they can put in the same kind of performance this week, they will not be as fortunate. The Bulls are wounded and upset, to say disappointed will be a huge understatement and for them, there is only one way to make amends for their mediocrity.
By all accounts, the Lions will not simply lie down, stick their tails between their legs and accept the punishment. This team has, on more than a number of occasions shown that they have pride and shown that they are capable of causing an upset. One or two well – respected rugby men have stuck their heads above the parapets and publically stated that people should not be too surprised if the Lions come away with another win.
An interesting contest between Elton Jantjies and Morne Steyn awaits us in what will be another closely viewed chapter in the SA flyhalf debate. For the Lions to have a sniff at this match, Elton has to be on song, with his goal kicking and running game.
In fact, I believe that this is the opportunity for Elton to be given a mandate to run and to run often, as he might be able to expose Morne Steyn and possibly create opportunities.
The Lions will know that they will be in for a bruising time and must therefore be mindful of keeping as far away from their own 22 as possible. If the Bulls are allowed to dominate territory and possession then the Lions will be in trouble. It always drives me mad, but I would prefer it if we found touch whenever we kick the ball as all that we do when we simply kick downfield is allow the opposition to run at us and we never seem to benefit any territory anyway.
This is a game where the Lions will need to ensure that the basics are done right. They will need to catch high balls, tackle well and scrum well. The problem is that we have now come to the end of Super Rugby 2012 and we have not yet shown that we can do this for the full 80 mins.
I have been thinking and apart from possibly Elton Jantjies I cannot find a clear advantage that the Lions will have over their opponents. I said earlier that if the Lions played like they did against the Rebels, we will lose, however if we play the way we played against the Sharks, then we will be most teams in this competition.
Logic however tells me that the Bulls will get their 4 tries and will beat us fairly comfortably.