Stormers wary of 'hungry' Lions

Wed, 19 Feb 2014 07:49
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A year away from Super Rugby has made the Lions a hungry and dangerous team capable of knocking over almost any side.

A year away from Super Rugby has made the Lions a hungry and dangerous team capable of knocking over almost any side.

Their return to Super Rugby was marked by a 21-20 win over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last week, a result that made their next opponents, the Stormers, sit up and take note.

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee could have been accused of being clichéd when he said the Lions are "quite a good side", but there was enough evidence in their Bloemfontein victory that showed they must be taken seriously.

"You don't get to beat a team away from home without being a quality side," Coetzee said of the Lions' victory over a Cheetahs side that made the play-offs in 2013.

"They [the Lions] showed it in the Currie Cup [competition] last year, when they reached the semifinals.

"Their first [Super Rugby] game [back] was away [from home] and was a good win for them.

"It shows, in this competition, on the day any team can beat any team.

"It doesn't matter what the predictions are before the game, or who appears [to be] the strongest - looking on paper and [what happens] on the day, are like day and night."

The Stormers mentor said one of the key aspects would be the breakdown, because the Lions again showed last Saturday just how dangerous they can be from turnover ball.

"That is why our whole focus this week has been to ensure our accuracy with ball in hand is good, that we look after and respect the ball," Coetzee said, adding: "We have a solid defensive structure.

"It is about us playing clever again, making sure we play in the right areas of the field and look after the ball."

Also, in Jaco Kriel and Derick Minnie the Lions have two very good poachers.

"Those two, as well as [centre] Stefan Watermeyer and hooker Robbie Coetzee, are also competitive on the ground and they do focus on going hard at the breakdown.

"I've been happy with our attack at the breakdown in the two [pre-season] outings against the Kings and the Bulls, where we were really clinical in that area."

The coach is not concerned that his team might be underdone going into the game, given that they had a bye in the opening week and most of his frontline players were rested for the final pre-season outing against Boland last week.

"Starting a week later we may not be at the same level as the other teams, but it also gave us a chance to see if he have spent our time on the right things."

The Highveld's notorious rarified are could be another factor, but the Stormers coach is confident his team will be up for the challenge.

"The Bulls and Lions have a 'killer' plan for the last 20 minutes, but you have to be prepared for that - you have to be as strong [in the last 20] as you were at the start and perhaps even getting stronger."

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