Lions gearing up for 'seasoned Sharks'
INTERVIEW: Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann issued a timely warning to his charges to keep their feet firmly planted on the ground.
The Free State Cheetahs and the Blue Bulls have already secured their places in the Currie Cup play-offs.
It is now a virtually straight shoot-out between the Lions and the Sharks, who meet at Ellis Park on Friday, for one of the two remaining spots.
Although Western Province could leave the back door ajar - should they lose to the Boland Cavaliers on the same day - it is more likely that the winner of the Johannesburg showdown will advance to the semifinals.
The Lions kept their play-off hopes alive with a 71-7 demolition of the winless Eastern Province Kings this past weekend.
The Sharks had a bye and are now just three points ahead of the Lions in the standings.
Debutant Lions skipper Albertus Smith led by example in Port Elizabeth, scoring three of the 11 tries that overwhelmed a Kings side that collapsed after being level at 7-all after 29 minutes.
The next 50 minutes saw the Lions score 10 unanswered tries and 64 points.
"We are grateful for the victory," Ackermann said of his team's weekend romp.
However, his was quick to caution that this week they will have to be a lot better in all aspects of their game.
"The Sharks have a more experienced team, with Super Rugby players and Springboks," the Lions mentor said.
"It will be a much tougher challenge [than playing the Kings].
"We are grateful that we still have our destiny in our own hands.
"However, as I said, we will have to work hard on all aspects of our game."
Ackerman pointed out that it is also a short turnaround - from a Saturday to a Friday game.
"Hopefully the guys will be refreshed and ready for a massive game," he added.