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Preview: Golden Lions v Sharks

Thu, 20 Jun 2013 16:42
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We have to get better in what we want to do
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The Golden Lions will welcome the step up in competition when they face the Sharks in a Lions Challenge clash at Ellis Park on Friday evening.

After despatching a young Western Province side featuring just two Stormers players 42-12 last Friday, the Johannesburg side will relish facing sterner opposition as they continue their preparation for the forthcoming Super Rugby promotion-relegation series.

Although far from full strength, the Sharks boast five Springboks and a good mix of youth and experience in their matchday 22 - certainly a far more formidable side than the Vodacom Cup quality outfit the Golden Lions faced last Friday.

Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann expects a tough game and seeks an improved performance from his charges.   

“There is so much talent that it remains a powerful combination. We know we will be up for a tough game. They have a great halfback combination and are a team renowned for their big ball-carrying ability, which means our defensive structure needs to be spot on,” said Ackermann.

“However, the most important aspect is that we have to get better in what we want to do, how we want to play. Last week, after the first half-hour, we did not even go through half of our structures - that is something we have worked on to fix up this week.”

An interesting dynamic in this fixture is the contrasting levels of importance it holds for the two teams. For the Golden Lions, a result is imperative in order to maintain their momentum while for the Sharks, it’s more a case of shaking off some rust after a near month-long break ahead of the resumption of the Super Rugby tournament next weekend.

In that regard, you’d have to believe the Golden Lions will be the hungrier of the two sides, but the Sharks are a proud bunch and won’t be playing for second once they are in the thick of the action.

Sharks assistant coach Hugh Reece-Edwards said senior players such as captain Keegan Daniel and World Cup-winning flyhalf Andrew James will need to lead from the front.  

“The players all needed a break, but now they need to come out firing, especially the senior players,” said Reece-Edwards.

“There are lots of juniors getting an opportunity now and they really need to put their hands up and show what they can do. But the onus really rests on the senior players to carry the team through this game and indeed the rest of the campaign.”

He believes the Golden Lions will be eager to make a statement against a Sharks side laden with Super Rugby players.

“They dealt with Western Province quite convincingly last weekend and they’re a side really motivated to show their character and taking that through to the end of the Super Rugby tournament.”

Reece-Edwards added that a victory over the Golden Lions would be a confidence booster ahead of their remaining Super Rugby matches against the Blues, Bulls and Southern Kings.

“There is a huge amount of pride in this team, they really want to put their hands up and make a few wrongs right. We have three games of the pool stages and after that, you never know, there could be a sneak in, but it’s about taking it game by game.

“We want to finish off playing really good rugby, we would like to see some attacking, exciting rugby all the way through.”

Players to watch:

For the Golden Lions:
The backline consists of a number of exciting players to keep an eye on. Ross Cronje at scrumhalf knows the Sharks players and systems well and will look to use that knowledge to the hosts’ advantage. Left wing Anthony Volmink is a try-scoring machine, outside centre Nicolaas Hanekom has all the makings of a future star and fullback Chrysander Botha is a quality player, having won 18 Test caps for Namibia to date.

For the Sharks: Look no further than the man in the No.10 jersey - Andrew James. Having spent the year as a spectator, “Butch” will finally be back in black and it will be interesting to see what he conjures up. Also back from injury is Louis Ludik, and how the regular fullback fares in the unfamiliar outside centre position will certainly be worth watching. Then there’s his young centre partner Heimar Williams, Riaan Viljoen at fullback, Charl McLeod at scrumhalf, Lubabalo Mtembu at No.8 and livewire hooker Kyle Cooper.

Head to head: The two top positional battles involve the Golden Lions’ key duo. Derick Minnie’s speed and breakdown ability will go up against the strength and ball-carrying prowess of Jean Deysel while captain JC Janse van Rensburg will have to set the tone in his battle against Wiehahn Herbst.

Recent results:
2012: Lions won 38-28, Johannesburg
2012: Sharks won 32-20, Durban
2011: Drew 30-30, Johannesburg
2011: Sharks won 27-3, Durban
2010: Sharks won 32-28, Johannesburg

Prediction: As the name suggests, the Lions Challenge is tailor-made for the Golden Lions. They are a settled side and the game time they got last week will give them an added edge. The makeshift Sharks side will put up a strong fight, but their rustiness will hamper them and prove decisive. Golden Lions by seven.

Teams:

Golden Lions:
15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Nicolaas Hanekom, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Warwick Tecklenburg, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Francois du Toit, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg (captain).
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Gavin Annandale, 19 Lambert Groenewald, 20 Michael Bondesio, 21 Dylan des Fountain, 22 Deon van Rensburg.

Sharks: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Louis Ludik, 12 Heimar Williams, 11 Sean Robinson, 10 Andrew James, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Lubabalo Mtembu, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Keegan Daniel (captain), 5 Jandre Marais, 4 Edwin Hewitt, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Brynard Stander, 19 Khaya Majola, 20 Cobus Reinach, 21 Fred Zeilinga, 22 Tyler Fisher.

Date: Friday, 21 June
Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 19.00 (17.00 GMT)
Expected weather: A low of 5°C and a high of 26°C with a 9km/h north west wind.
Referee: Ben Crouse
Assistant referees: Tiaan Jonker, Sieg van Staden
TMO: TBC

By Quintin van Jaarsveld

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