Preview: Golden Lions v Griquas
Preview: Golden Lions v GriquasSHARE
One last trial run, one last opportunity to iron out some kinks in the armour before the big day.
That is how Johan Ackermann's Golden Lions see their 'friendly' against Griquas at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday.
You may think there can't be too many kinks left – given that even without a host of players on loan Super Rugby franchise, they still managed to put 50 points past a powerful Blue Bulls team, beat an equally powerful Sharks selection comfortably and mauled a Samoan selection by 60 points.
However, given what is at stake – when they take on the Southern Kings in the Super Rugby promotion-relegation series on July 26 (in Port Elizabeth) and August 2 (in Johannesburg) – the Lions see Saturday's encounter with Griquas as crucial to the cause.
"We are still looking for that contact [match practice]," Ackermann told this website, adding that you only get match fitness by playing games and taking that contact.
"You have to feel the pressure, the kicks, line-outs and all those match situations under pressure.
"We are looking to build on last weekend [a 50-12 demolition of the Blue Bulls], continuing to play quality rugby."
Griquas also hope to get some good value out of their trip to Ellis Park, as this is their last pre-season match ahead of their Currie Cup opener against the Sharks, in Durban on August 9.
However, for the Lions this is about regaining Super Rugby status and that is why they have – as Western Province coach John Dobson called it recently – developed such a "mean streak".
"I say this with all respect to our opposition, but the score is not the most important aspect," Ackermann told this website, when asked about his goals for the game.
"It is more important to get that [game] time on the legs.
"We had a good game this past weekend [against the Blue Bulls] and hopefully we'll reproduce that this coming weekend.
"Then we'll have two weeks to get the guys bodies right [recovery time].
"In that time we'll fine tune our game and work on the areas we feel require attention."
Prediction: Griquas have none of their Super Rugby players available. The only team that really gave the Golden Lions a run for their money in the last month or so featured five Springboks and several other Super Rugby regulars – the Sharks. Even they could not beat these Lions. Given that Western Province shipped 42 points against them, the Blues Bulls 50 and the Samoan selection 74 (in a 74-14 drubbing), you would not expect Griquas to be a real threat. It may well be close for the first half, maybe even the first hour. However, we expect the Golden Lions to cut loser in the last quarter and win by at least 30 points.
Golden Lions: 15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Nicolaas Hanekom, 12 Dylan des Fountain, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Guy Cronjé, 8 Lambert Groenewald, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Warwick Tecklenburg, 5 JJ Breedt, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Francois du Toit, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg (captain).
Replacements – from: Mark Pretorius, Jacques van Rooyen, Ruan Dreyer, Hugo Kloppers/Gavin Annandale, Willie Britz, Ross Cronje/Wiaan van der Watt, Lionel Cronje, Chrysander Botha, Deon Helberg.
Griquas: 15 Gouws Prinsloo, 14 Luzuko Vulindlu, 13 Jean Stemmet, 12 DuRandt Gerber, 11 PJ Vermeulen (captain), 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Jacques Coetzee, 8 Carel Greeff, 7 RJ Liebenberg, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Jonathan Adendorff, 4 Hilton Lobberts, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Matthew Dobson, 1 Janro van Niekerk.
Replacements – from: Gideon Bruwer, Brummer Badenhorst, Jaco Nepgen, Deon Carney, Burger Schoeman, Justin Downey, Marnus Hugo, Dusty Noble, Nico Scheepers, Enrico Acker.
Date: Saturday, July 13
Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 15.00 (13.00 GMT)
Referee: Stuart Berry
Assistant referees: Ben Crouse, Renier Vermeulen
TMO: Johann Meuwesen
By Jan de Koning