Lions to put big squeeze on Folau

Fri, 16 May 2014 21:26
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Israel Folau may possess the same fearsome attacking prowess as Sony Bill Williams, but without the ball he is as otiose as a fan in the stands.

Israel Folau may possess the same fearsome attacking prowess as Sonny Bill Williams, but without the ball he is as otiose as any fan sitting in the stands.

Lions coach Johan Ackermann, speaking to rugby365 in an interview ahead of his team's Super Rugby showdown with the Waratahs in Sydney on Sunday, put a target on two of the home team's biggest game-breakers - Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau.

With an extra day for preparation - they travelled from New Zealand on Sunday and used Monday as their off - the Lions had plenty of time to analyse the Waratahs.

And Ackermann, who have always found the Waratahs a tough hurdle in Sydney, said the Tahs' 100 percent unbeaten home run this year proves why they are rated as serious play-off candidates.

"Sydney is a tough place to play, because there are so many distractions and it becomes a tough ask to keep the players focussed," the Lions mentor said.

"Then, if you look at them as a team, they have plenty of quality across the park. They have an all-Wallaby front row, international loose forwards and in the backs they have class players like Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau.

"They have the players to rank among the best in the competition."

However, that doesn't mean the Lions - hoping to end a five-match losing streak - are throwing in the towel.

To the contrary, Ackermann believes there is a simple solution to eliminating the threat posed by the tournament's top try-scorer.

"If things work out well, then Israel Folau will hopefully not see too much possession," Ackermann told rugby365.

"Hopefully our defence can put them under enough pressure that he doesn't see too much free ball in open play, which will allow him to run around freely.

"He is a quality player and they always look to get him into the game - even if it is with cross-field kicks. Those are all aspects that we have to look at and plan for."

The Lions coach believe that dominance in the set pieces, together with the speed of their defensive line will put them under enough pressure to cut down Folau's space and time.

"We know how damaging he can be when given space and time," he said, adding: "We mustn't sit and wait for them [on defence]. If you sit and wait for them and allow them to make their passes and create their plays, then they are at their most dangerous.

"The teams that shut them down and put pressure on had more success - that is because they don't have the time to make good decisions and that is when the errors come into their game.

"The big thing is that they want to get the ball in his hands so the other players can run off him, much like the Chiefs and All Blacks did with Sonny Bill Williams.

"He [Folau] is good at off-loading in the tackle.

"We need to starve him of possession and that starts up front [among the forwards] and on the inside - everybody who are in the [defensive] line must work hard so that so that he doesn't see the ball."

By Jan de Koning

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sat, 25 February 2017
Saracens v Sale Sharks 12h45 Allianz Park
Northampton Saints v Worcester Warriors 13h00 Franklin's Gardens
Exeter Chiefs v Newcastle Falcons 13h00 Sandy Park
Cheetahs v Lions 13h05 Bloemfontein
Scotland v Wales 14h25 BT Murrayfield
Kings v Jaguares 15h15 Port Elizabeth
Ireland v France 16h50 Aviva Stadium
Stormers v Bulls 17h30 Cape Town
Sun, 26 February 2017
Bristol v Bath 11h00 Ashton Gate
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Treviso v Connacht 12h30 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Wasps v Gloucester 12h30 Ricoh Arena
Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors 13h05 Liberty Stadium
England v Italy 15h00 Twickenham Stadium
Mon, 27 February 2017
UCT-Ikeys v Maties 14h45 Cape Town
CPUT v UKZN-Impi 16h30 Cape Town
UP-Tuks v Wits 16h30 Pretoria
UWC v TUT 16h30 Cape Town
CUT-Ixias v UJ 16h30 Bloemfontein
Rhodes v Fort Hare 16h30 Grahamstown
Shimlas v NWU-Pukke 17h00 Bloemfontein
Thu, 02 March 2017
Force v Reds 10h30 Perth
Fri, 03 March 2017
Chiefs v Blues 06h35 Hamilton
Connacht v Zebre 19h35 Ascoli Piceno
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Sale Sharks v Northampton Saints 20h15 AJ Bell Stadium
Sat, 04 March 2017
Hurricanes v Rebels 04h15 Wellington
Highlanders v Crusaders 06h45 Dunedin
Brumbies v Sharks 08h45 Canberra
RESULT SCORE
Sat, 25 February 2017
Waratahs v Force 19 | 13
Crusaders v Brumbies 17 | 13
Sunwolves v Hurricanes 17 | 83
Fri, 24 February 2017
Munster v Scarlets 21 | 30
Dragons v Leinster 22 | 54
Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues 17 | 18
Harlequins v Leicester Tigers 18 | 27
Reds v Sharks 28 | 26
Highlanders v Chiefs 15 | 24
Thu, 23 February 2017
Rebels v Blues 18 | 56
Tue, 21 February 2017
CUT-Ixias v Shimlas 13 | 22
Mon, 20 February 2017
UJ v UP-Tuks 18 | 11
Maties v NMMU-Madibaz 35 | 16
UKZN-Impi v Fort Hare 16 | 10
NWU-Pukke v UCT-Ikeys 20 | 15
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Reds 1 1 0 0 4
Waratahs 1 1 0 0 4
Brumbies 1 0 0 1 1
Force 1 0 0 1 1
Rebels 1 0 0 1 0
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Hurricanes 1 1 0 0 5
Blues 1 1 0 0 5
Chiefs 1 1 0 0 5
Crusaders 1 1 0 0 4
Highlanders 1 0 0 1 0
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 0 0 0 0 0
Bulls 0 0 0 0 0
Cheetahs 0 0 0 0 0
Sunwolves 1 0 0 1 0
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Sharks 1 0 0 1 1
Lions 0 0 0 0 0
Jaguares 0 0 0 0 0
Kings 0 0 0 0 0