Lions in a tight spot

Wed, 05 Feb 2014 20:45
Large lions training general Large johan ackermann points Large willie du plessis lions

The Lions will face a stern examination of their Super Rugby pedigree when they face the Sharks in Johannesburg on Friday.

The Lions will face a stern examination of their Super Rugby pedigree when they face the Sharks in Johannesburg on Friday.

And the biggest test will be in the scrums, where they will come up against the all-Springbok front row of Jannie and Bismarck du Plessis, as well as Tendai Mtawarira.

Given his team's set-piece problems in their 19-12 pre-season win over the Southern Kings last week, coach Johan Ackermann admitted they will have to "work hard" ahead of facing a much more intimidating adversary.

While the Lions' starting front row - Julian Redelinghuys, Willie Wepener and Schalk van der Merwe - held their own against the Kings, it was once the back-up arrived on the field in the second half that things went pear-shaped for the Lions.

"I am concerned, as I expected more," Ackermann said of his front row depth.

"They are good players and what makes them good players is the fact that they are good ball carriers - Jacques [van Rooyen] when he played for us and Corne [Fourie] for the Pumas last year.

"It has to be remembered that Jacques van Rooyen played his first game for us at tighthead [prop].

"We are putting him on trial there. We do have some good loosehead props and want to see if he can have the same impact at tighthead for us.

"However, it does start in the scrums and we can't neglect the scrums - we will work hard on that aspect."

Ackermann said that Ruan Dreyer is still coming back from injury and is a very good tighthead that will help resolve the issue.

"I do expect the guys who come on to be of the same standard, so that is something we will pay attention to."

Kings stand-in coach Robbie Kempson, who played in 37 Tests for the Springboks from 1998 to 2003, admitted the Lions are in a similar pickle to what the Kings found themselves in last year.

"I can't speak for Ackers [Johan Ackermann], but he does know that he doesn't have dept in certain positions." Kempson said.

The former Bok prop felt that it is not a problem of the Lions mentor's making.

"He is in the same predicament the Kings were in last year," Kempson said, adding: "He can't get the top rugby players in the country, [because] he doesn't have a headline sponsor.

"I feel very sorry for him.

"He should be given the best opportunity to perform at a top level [and] he is not being given that opportunity, because certain [provincial] presidents decided not to vote for something that is not a rugby decision.

"I feel sorry for him in that respect, he doesn't have the strength in dept that the Sharks, Stormers, Cheetahs and Bulls have.

"Unfortunately he is not going to get it this season.

"That is why he took off players earlier than he should have - he can't afford to have injury to his top players."

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Fri, 23 March 2018
Crusaders v Bulls 06h35 Christchurch
Rebels v Sharks 08h45 Melbourne
Connacht v Edinburgh 19h35 Sportsground
Dragons v Cheetahs 19h35 Rodney Parade
Glasgow Warriors v Zebre 19h35 Scotstoun
Bath v Exeter Chiefs 19h45 Recreation Ground
Sat, 24 March 2018
Sunwolves v Chiefs 04h15 Tokyo
Hurricanes v Highlanders 06h35 Wellington
Kings v Treviso 13h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
London Irish v Gloucester 15h00 Madejski Stadium
Saracens v Harlequins 15h00 London
Sale Sharks v Worcester Warriors 15h00 AJ Bell Stadium
Stormers v Reds 15h15 Newlands
Cardiff Blues v Ulster 15h15 Cardiff Arms Park
Munster v Scarlets 17h30 Thomond Park
Newcastle Falcons v Northampton Saints 17h30 Kingston Park
Ospreys v Leinster 19h35 Liberty Stadium
Jaguares v Lions 19h40 Estadio Jose Amalfitani
Sun, 25 March 2018
Leicester Tigers v Wasps 15h00 Welford Road
Sun, 18 March 2018
Waratahs v Rebels 51 | 27
Sat, 17 March 2018
Jaguares v Reds 7 | 18
Wales v France 14 | 13
Lions v Sunwolves 40 | 38
England v Ireland 15 | 24
Stormers v Blues 37 | 20
Italy v Scotland 27 | 29
Brumbies v Sharks 24 | 17
Highlanders v Crusaders 25 | 17
Fri, 16 March 2018
Cardiff Blues v Treviso 31 | 25
Edinburgh v Munster 12 | 6
Chiefs v Bulls 41 | 28
Sun, 11 March 2018
Wales v Italy 38 | 14
Sat, 10 March 2018
Jaguares v Waratahs 38 | 28
France v England 22 | 16
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Rebels 4 3 0 1 15
Waratahs 4 2 1 1 10
Reds 3 2 0 1 8
Brumbies 4 2 0 2 8
Sunwolves 4 0 0 4 2
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Highlanders 3 3 0 0 13
Hurricanes 3 2 0 1 10
Crusaders 4 2 0 2 10
Chiefs 3 2 0 1 8
Blues 4 1 0 3 6
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 5 4 0 1 19
Stormers 5 2 0 3 9
Sharks 4 1 1 4 9
Bulls 4 1 0 3 5
Jaguares 4 1 0 3 4