Canes expect Lions backlash

Hurricanes assistant coach John Plumtree believes the Lions’ great escape against the Sharks will motivate them to up their game in Saturday’s semi-final at Ellis Park.

The Lions required a late penalty to salvage a two-point victory in last Saturday’s quarter-final in Johannesburg, with coach Johan Ackermann admitting afterwards that they had been ‘lucky’ to emerge on the winning side.

Plumtree, who formerly coached at the Sharks, said he hadn’t been at all surprised by the performance of the Durbanites, but suggested that it could spark a fierce response from the Lions.

‘They [the Lions] were disappointed in their own game, but we were pretty disappointed in ours, and I guess the Chiefs were disappointed in theirs, but the fact is we're all still alive and kicking in this competition. You get over those types of setbacks and move onto the next challenge,’ Plumtree told

‘The Sharks played probably one of their best games of the season and having known the Sharks pretty well, I know they're capable of that type of thing. The Sharks have a good reputation when it reaches quarter-final, semi-final time, so I wasn't surprised the Sharks played well, and were unlucky to lose.

'It will just motivate the Lions to play better in the next one and they know they'll need to because we're probably a better side than the Sharks.’

Although it will be the first time that the Lions face a New Zealand opponent this season, Plumtree said he didn’t think this would be a factor on Saturday.

‘They've played us enough, they'll know what to expect from us. If you look at the last three games we've played, they were certainly a lot tougher than the last three they've played, but in a semi-final like this, a big game, I don't think that's going to be a massive factor at all.’

Photo: Gianluigi Guercia/AFP Photo

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Craig Lewis