Kings v Lions: Pressure mounts

Sun, 14 Jul 2013 14:32
Large michael bondesio lions Large warren whiteley lions Large jaco kriel   nic groom 630 Large derick minnie lions 630 Large hendrik roodt630

The focus may be at the top end of the Super Rugby competition, but the pressure will be squarely on the last-placed Southern Kings.

The focus may be at the top end of the Super Rugby competition, but the pressure will be squarely on the last-placed Southern Kings.

The tournament rookies, who managed an unprecedented three wins and a draw (against the Australian conference-winning Brumbies), now go into a two-match promotion-relegation series against the Lions - the team they displaced in the competition this year.

The first leg of their play-off series are in Port Elizabeth on July 26, with the return match in Johannesburg on August 2.

The Kings will go into the game with the advantage of having played quality opposition all season and could be more 'battle-hardened' than the Johannesburg team.

In stark contrast the Lions had to reply on a mixture of Vodacom Cup, Super Rugby and second tier opposition - after their planned trip to North America fell through and almost all the French teams withdrew from the Lions Challenge series.

"Time will tell, but they definitely have the edge with the intensity that they're now used to playing," Lions coach Ackermann said after is team's final warm-up match - a 26-12 win over Griquas in Johannesburg at the weekend.

"I believe our players are good enough to lift themselves up to that intensity.

"It could be two games too far for them or they can be quite used to the intensity."

Ackermann said it would be difficult to say who would be under more pressure in the play-offs.

"They want to keep playing in the competition and they've had a taste for it," he said.

"We want to get back in it, we know how good it is.

"Both camps have tremendous pressure on them and I don't think either team has more or less pressure on them."

Ackermann hopes to have a host of his best players back for the promotion/relegation series.

At the top of the list is flyhalf Elton Jantjies, who has played for the Stormers the past season, but will be available for the Lions.

The availability of Jantjies, however, may not be the solution Ackermann is looking for as Marnitz Boshoff has fulfilled the No.10 role well for the Lions this year.

"The players that we mainly rely on that I would like to see back on the pitch is [scrumhalf] Michael Bondesio, [loose forwards] Warren Whiteley, Jaco Kriel and Derick Minnie, as well as [lock] Hendrik Roodt," Ackermann said.

"Then hopefully we'll get [lock] Franco van der Merwe [who was on loan to the Sharks] and Elton [Jantjies] fully fit back for us."

The Lions laboured against Griquas, battling to string phases together on attack but overall Ackermann was pleased with his charges.

"We showed that our scrum is still good but we must tick all the facets of the game and defensively there's still a bit to work on," he said.

Ackermann said his team needed to work on their ball retention as they lost too many balls in contact which robbed them of quick ball.

He admitted playing lower league opposition was a problem in the run on to the promotion matches.

"We had a different attitude against the Sharks and the Bulls and we saw it in the body language of the players," Ackermann said.

"This it was almost a case of just get this game over with, there's bigger games to come. We're not going to harp on too much about the game and we'll take the positives out of it and work on all areas."

SAPA

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Fri, 01 July 2016
Chiefs v Crusaders 07h35 Suva
Brumbies v Reds 09h40 Canberra
EP Kings v Griquas 16h00 Port Elizabeth
Blue Bulls v Boland 17h00 Loftus Versfeld
Sat, 02 July 2016
Sunwolves v Waratahs 05h15 Tokyo
Hurricanes v Blues 07h35 Wellington
Rebels v Stormers 09h40 Melbourne
Free State Cheetahs v Falcons 10h05 Bloemfontein
Golden Lions v Griffons 12h05 Johannesburg
Western Province v Eagles 13h00 Newlands
Namibia v Border 13h00 Windhoek
Cheetahs v Force 13h00 Bloemfontein
Sharks v Leopards 15h00 Durban
Kings v Highlanders 15h05 Port Elizabeth
Lions v Sharks 17h10 Johannesburg
Jaguares v Bulls 21h40 Buenos Aires
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Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 12 8 0 4 34
Waratahs 12 7 0 5 34
Rebels 12 6 0 6 27
Reds 12 3 1 8 16
Force 12 2 0 10 12
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 12 10 0 2 45
Chiefs 12 9 0 3 42
Hurricanes 12 8 0 4 40
Highlanders 12 8 0 4 38
Blues 12 6 1 5 30
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 12 7 1 4 36
Bulls 12 7 1 4 32
Cheetahs 12 3 0 9 17
Sunwolves 12 1 1 10 9
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 12 9 0 3 42
Sharks 12 7 1 4 35
Jaguares 12 2 0 10 14
Kings 12 2 0 10 9