Lions look for killer instinct

A raw Lions side received a timely boost to their 2007 Super 14 campaign when they clung to a halftime lead against a tame Highlanders outfit. But more improvement is needed as they prepare to host the Crusaders in Johannesburg on Saturday.


The Lions mentor, Eugene ‘Loffie’ Eloff, was satisified with the win.


“I am glad that we won. It doesn’t matter how you do it, a win against a New Zealand side is always a huge confidence-booster, especially for the young players in the Lions side.


“But I am concerned at some of the opportunities missed. We left five tries unscored on Saturday.


“That is something we will have to improve upon.


“But that said, Saturday saw us beat a side the franchise has not beaten since 2003, and we did defend well.”


The Crusaders left for South Africa on Sunday, after having silenced many doubters when they triumphed over a strong, structured Reds outfit by 33 to 22 in Christchurch, without their controversially rested All Blacks.


Eloff is under no illusions. The Crusaders are to be respected. But Eloff says his side are preparing as if they were due to play any other Super 14 side.


“The Crusaders have shown that they are just as dangerous this year. They just have an awesome depth to their squad. In fact, they could even more dangerous now than ever before.”


Eloff was alluding to the fact that young players are often more dangerous than tried and tested superstars. There is nothing to match the raw energy and self-belief of young talent being given an opportunity to shine.


And Eloff’s charges have not played badly in their first two matches. Players such as Cobus Grobelaar, Willem Alberts and Louis Ludik have shone.


With Boks like Jaco Pretorius, Jaque Fourie and Enrico Januarie in tow, the Lions will be hoping to prove many of their own critics wrong.


Skipper Andre Pretorius is also set to return this week, and his presence and the impact it will have on the Lions cannot be overstated. He is their matchwinner.


And they will need that quality in abundance come Saturday.


By Chris Waldburger


365 Digital

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