The guys must show pride on defence
The Golden Lions need to get a better attitude on defence or face the prospect of dropping off the Currie Cup play-off pace.
This is the view of stand-in captain Johan Ackermann, who bemoaned the defending champions' sloppy tackling in their surprise 32-42 loss to lowly Griquas last week.
The Lions travel to Pretoria this week for a big derby with trans-Jukskei neighbours the Blue Bulls, a team coming off an even bigger hammering in Round Four.
With the table-topping Sharks (on 14 points) having opened a narrow three-point lead over the chasing pack - Western Province (on 11 points), the Lions and Free State Cheetahs (both on 10), the Bulls on (eight) - another defeat will have dire consequences as the competition reaches the halfway stage.
Ackermann admitted it will be a "big week", after both teams were taught a few lessons and both have plenty to work on.
"There is no doubt how big the challenge will be to tackle the Bulls at Loftus [Versfeld] after the hiding they had," he said of the Pretoria outfit's 6-42 loss to Western Province.
"No doubt they will come back in a big way," Ackermann said, adding: "We are exactly in the same boat, so it will be a very intriguing game."
The Lions coach admitted that his biggest concern, as they build towards the Loftus encounter, was the one-on-one tackling.
"Still too many players are missing tackles," Ackermann said, adding: "We are also losing too much possession in contact.
"Those are the two aspects that we will pay a lot of attention to this wee."
He admitted that in one-on-one tackling attitude is a big issue.
"We had a lengthy video session and the guys were there, the system is in place," he said of the team's defensive structures.
"It is simply a case of poor tackling .. the player is not put to ground or he breaks free of the tackle.
"I would agree that it is an attitude thing and the guys must show pride on defence and not slip as many tackles."
The positives to take from last week's loss to Griquas would be the set pieces.
"We had one key line-out that went awry, when we had a great opportunity to attack and on one or two occasions the delivery to [scrumhalf] Ross [Cronje] was not accurate.
"The scrums were obviously great, but there were only four scrums. From those we got two penalties, when Griquas stood up or collapsed.
"However, it is what happens after the set pieces that we have to pay attention to and work hard on."
Ackermann will delay the announcement of his team till Thursday to give utility forward Josh Strauss and loose forward Jaco Kriel - who both took head knocks against Griquas - as much time as possible to recover.
They are going through their cognizance tests this week and the coach is "hopeful" they will be available.
Backline star Jaco Taute started training this week, after a lengthy lay-off with a shoulder injury, and if he passe a fitness test he could feature off the bench against the Bulls.
By Jan de Koning