Griffons hoping to catch Lions by surprise

The Griffons, who have beaten the Lions only once back in the days of the old Transvaal have an excellent opportunity to repeat that famous victory 25 years later when the two teams meet in a compulsory Currie Cup  friendly in Welkom on Friday afternoon.

It’s been a quarter of a century since André Gerber’s troops beat a star-studded Transvaal team in Welkom. This time the shoe is on the other foot.

The Lions travel to Welkom for the first time in eight years with a brand new team under brand new management, and could be more than a little bit vulnerable.

The injection of some Cheetah blood into the Griffons side levels the playing field in many ways and the local side won’t be star-strucked when they take the field at 15:00.

It will be game-on when Baywatch Grobbelaar leads his side onto the barren North West pitch to rebuild the Lions to their former glory and a rightful place among the big guns in SA rugby.

The Lions are in a predicament in that they have the cash to buy a few stars, only to learn that there aren’t many top players in the current market.

The loss of players such as Heinke van der Merwe, Lawrence Sephaka, Gerhard Mostert, Jannes Labuschagne, André Pretorius, Louis Ludik and Jannie Boshoff, all out injured for the rest of the season, and Willie Wepener, Ernst Joubert, Ethienne Reynecke, Dewald Senekal and Anton van Zyl, who have all loft the Union, are a crippling blow.

New Lions flyhalf Herkie Kruger won’t send shivers down Kennedy Tsimba’s spine and Fabian Juries would welcome a one-on-one battle with Dusty Noble.

The Griffons have replaced Bioplus van der Merwe with local loose-forward Shaun Botha after it became public knowledge that the Springbok Sevens players would be available to the Eagles for the rest of the season.

The Lions have contracted a blend of young and experience and someone such as Nico Luus could well enjoy a second rugby life and prove that he could play at a higher level.

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