Mitchell brushes off Lions loss to the Sharks

Lions coach John Mitchell has brushed aside his team’s 53-9 loss to the Sharks last week, giving little attention to a late blemish in a largely spotless Currie Cup season.

The Lions face Western Province in a Currie Cup semi-final clash at Ellis Park on Saturday.

“It is irrelevant. The log is finished and we just got a lesson in attitude,” Mitchell said on Wednesday.

“We had done our job the week before, and in another context we probably would have been in a different mindset.”

Mitchell said they would not fall into the trap of approaching the semi-final in a similar manner to the league stage of the competition.

“It is not just another game, it is more important than that,” he said.

“I guess you can fall in the trap in professional rugby as seeing it as just another game.

“It is not that for us, there is a bit of excitement around but it is important that we control and manage that situation.

“Excitement is good, it is a good part of preparation.

“We have been focussing on training as we want to play — it’s been our build-up so far.”

While the loss was not ideal for their momentum heading into the playoffs, Mitchell said they had achieved all their objectives.

He used most of his first-choice players off the bench for the Sharks match but brought all those players back into the run-on side for the semi-final.

The Lions suffered only one selection blow for the crucial clash this weekend, with regular prop JC Janse van Rensburg picking up a hamstring injury.

Springbok CJ van der Linde will receive his first starting berth for the Lions — since transferring from Western Province in July — in the place of Janse van Rensburg.

Cobus Grobbelaar will undergo a late fitness test but the flanker is likely to play off the bench.

Michael Rhodes, who has played at lock on a few occasions this season, will move to the side of the scrum.

Mitchell opted to stick with his tried and tested combinations and Springbok pivot Butch James will also play off the bench.

“We selected the best mix at the end of the day and stuck with the people who created team cohesion and performed,” Mitchell said.

“The backline has done extremely well over the season and obviously under Josh’s (Strauss) leadership the whole group has done extremely well.”

Lions team:

Jaco Taute, Deon van Rensburg, Doppies la Grange, Alwyn Hollenbach, Michael Killian, Elton Jantjies, Michael Bondesio, Joshua Strauss (captain), Michael Rhodes, Derick Minnie, Franco van der Merwe, Wikus van Heerden, Patric Cilliers, Bandise Maku, CJ Van der Linde.

Replacements: Martin Bezuidenhout, Jacobie Adriaanse, Warren Whiteley, Cobus Grobbelaar/Jaco Kriel, Butch James, Dylan Des Fountain, James Kamana.

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