Following a thorough review of their previous Jukskei derbies, Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen believes his side is better prepared to face the Vodacom Bulls in the Currie Cup semi-finals.
The Lions and Bulls have squared off twice so far in this unprecedented season, with the Pretoria-based side outlasting their opponents to win both encounters – 30-25 at Ellis Park and 22-15 at Loftus, respectively.
Heading into this weekend’s semi-final, the Bulls are odds-on favourites to progress to the title-deciding match, especially so considering their flawless record at Loftus since Jake White took control of the team. But Van Rooyen is adamant that the Lions can cause an upset at ‘Fortress Loftus’.
‘We played them twice, came close twice. The learnings from the previous game was that we allowed them to dictate the tempo of the game completely,’ Van Rooyen explained. ‘We did create enough opportunities, we just didn’t manage to take them.
‘You need to be brave in playoff games. You’ve got to be able and willing to give it a full crack. Having a crack isn’t necessarily just throwing the ball around; having a crack is to see if we can dictate the tempo of the game a little bit. To see if we can get forward dominance and how can we exert that dominance if they put us under pressure on defence and it is about how we can transition that to maybe a superior kicking game.
‘Having a crack is being able to apply pressure in different ways. We really had a good review after our previous game against the Bulls and we’re excited to see how we do this weekend.’
Van Rooyen, however, warned his charges that for their plan of upsetting the Bulls to come to fruition, their decision-making must be flawless and their execution clinical for the full length of the contest. not just intermittently.
‘We’re keen to go there and see if we can put them under pressure. As I said before, whether it’s with or without ball in hand or with a tactical kicking game. We’ve worked hard these last two weeks on our decision-making and how we can apply pressure and hopefully constant pressure for 80 minutes.’
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