Province aim to stop Lions scrum in Currie Cup

Western Province coach Allister Coetzee says his side must nullify the Lions’ hard-running pack in Saturday’s Currie Cup clash in Johannesburg.

Coetzee said ahead of the encounter, in the penultimate round of matches before the playoffs, that the gameplan of this year’s pace setters had revolved around their mobile pack of forwards.

“We will have to go into the match armed with a counter for the Lions’ pack, who have the players to apply pressure and physicality,” Coetzee said.

“They are a very balanced side, and also a very efficient one, with loads of quality all round.”

The Capetonians are fresh off a nerve-wracking 15-10 win over the Sharks in Durban last week.

Province captain Tiaan Liebenberg said the last minute victory gave the side’s youngsters a much needed confidence boost.

“That win will make it easier for the youngsters, most of whom haven’t played the Lions in Johannesburg before,” said Liebenberg.

The visitors’ chances of advancing to the next stage of the competition hung in the balance and they were in dire need of a victory over the Lions.

Liebenberg, however, said Province were not thinking about their log position or the likely consequences of the outcome.

“We’re focussed on the Lions and that’s the one we’re going out to win,” he said.

The Lions, on the other hand, were sitting pretty at the top of the log ahead of the weekend fixtures and hoped to cement themselves a home semi-final — a feat they have not achieved in more than a decade.

One of the Lions’ rising stars, fullback Jaco Taute, said a victory over Province would be key if they were to enter the playoffs with the right mindset.

“You want to go in with momentum, and for the team to be performing at their best, both physically and mentally,” Taute said.

“When you get into the playoff stages, you need to just be ready and make that mental switch to win the games at the business end.”

In the other crunch match on Saturday, semi-final hopefuls the Blue Bulls and Griquas will cross swords in Kimberley.

Both teams need to chalk up a bonus-point victory if they hope to keep their playoff aspirations alive.

Bulls coach Pine Pienaar said they were mindful of Griquas’ attacking abilities and the dangermen in their backline.

“They have players who amassed great experience in Super Rugby with the Cheetahs, and with someone like Sarel Pretorius back in the side, their attack will look slightly different,” Pienaar said.

“It is the type of game where they would like to play the ball wide and I think they would try to increase the tempo in the match.”

The Bulls are in fifth position on the log, three points behind Province, while Griquas are three points adrift of the Pretoria side.

In the final match of the weekend, the second-placed Sharks, in search of a home semi-final, will be in the hunt for a bonus point victory against the Leopards in Rustenburg.

The Leopards, on the other hand, will look to save face in their penultimate Currie Cup premier division match.

The home side have only one win to their name in this year’s competition and are set to go crashing out the top flight as they languish at the bottom of the log.

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