Lions hope to feast on beefy Bulls

The Bulls are undoubtedly the most powerful pack of forwards in South Africa, probably the entire Super 14 competition. However, they face a tricky hurdle in the unheralded Lions in a crucial Round 12 encounter in Johannesburg on Saturday.

The Lions, now no more than a long shot in the play-off race, have had their moments this year – even being rated as genuine contenders after a four-match winning streak in the early rounds.

It was during this run – which included victories over the Highlanders, Crusaders, Western Force and Reds – that the Lions showed real promise.

They have hit a few bumps in the Super 14 road in the past month, but they still believe they have what it takes to compete with the best – including the beefy Bulls.

Openside flank Cobus Grobbelaar, said that a lack of consistency is all that separates the Lions from a team like the Bulls.

“I think we can hold our own against the best, we have showed this season what we are capable of,” he told this website.

“However, there were those moments within games where we lost concentration, which proved vital – we lost ball control and lost focus in a specific scrum,” he said of the games where the forwards lost their effectiveness.

“In a sense we are still in a building phase as a pack, but having said that, we have done so well as a pack this season that we no longer have that absolute underdog tag.

“The key is now to focus for the full 80 minutes, to look at every phase and be consistent for the entire game – only then can we truly become one of the great sets of forwards in the competition,” he added.

Grobbelaar said he doesn’t think the Lions are too far off the pace set by the leading teams in the competition.

It is simply a case of getting all the aspects of their game to work on the same day.

Sometimes they would produce some outstanding mauling and next time their scrum would be the powerhouse of the pack.

“I can’t think that we are too far off [the pace],” the flank said.

“We have made great progress from the Currie Cup last year and the beginning of the season. We have also been lucky not to have had too many injuries, so the combinations remained the same.

“However, the key remains to be consistent and eliminate that maul when we suddenly mess up and that crucial scrum we concede.”

The flank set those lapses can be put down to a “mindset thing”.

“The guys must know they can do it in every maul, in every scrum … not when we suddenly push the opposition back then the players are surprised about what they achieved. It must become a habit – we must expect to be able to do in every time,” he added.

He was supported by loosehead prop Heinke van der Merwe, who said it will be a team effort that beats the best, not individual brilliance.

“We got to a stage where we said to ourselves, each player must take responsibility for his task within the team setup.

“We know we must stand together as a team and we can’t reply on individuals. It is vital that we remain a unit,” Van der Merwe said.

Grobbelaar, who has now established himself as one of the country’s premier openside flanks and will go head-to-head with his former Lions captain Wikus van Heerden on Saturday, said he is most comfortable on the flank.

“This year is the first time that I play openside [flank] for the entire season. In the past I alternated between flank and number eight – the roles I played in the team context changed all the time.

“It makes things a lot easier the longer you play in the same position. You get to know your fellow loose forwards and you know what their strengths and weaknesses are.

“We compliment each other and make things easier for the rest of the team.

“I prefer openside flank, because the talent I have is best suited to openside – I’m not very tall or big, so this is best suited to my g

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