Lions want to make the most their second chance
LIONS hooker Malcolm Marx has called on his teammates to make the most of the second chance they have been afforded after they were beaten in last year’s Super Rugby final.
The Lions did everything asked of them in 2016 to have a full go at winning the title, except finish top of the log, and had to travel to Wellington to face the Hurricanes in the final. They lost 20-3, having also lost to the same team in the regular season, 50-17 at Ellis Park. This time though the Lions are at home and it’s not the final, but the semi-final.
Marx said yesterday that the fact the Lions qualified for the play-offs for the second year in succession was something they now had to make count especially as they will play at home for the rest of the competition.
“It’s not every day that you get into the Super Rugby play-offs for a second year in a row and this time as the top-placed team,” said Marx (pictured) yesterday. “We certainly want to make that count for us.
“We did the hard work last year as well and would have loved to win the title then, but it was always going to be difficult away from home and playing against a team that is more familiar with the weather conditions we faced on the day. But now we have an opportunity in front of us and need to take advantage of playing at home.”
The Lions never really stood a chance in the wet and cold of Wellington last year, but at home on the dry Highveld in the early afternoon they’ll fancy their chances of not only getting past last year’s champions but going all the way. Marx though said the fact they have experience of playing knockout rugby last year and knowing what the Hurricanes will bring to the contest will make no difference on Saturday. More so because it will be the first time this season that the Lions face a New Zealand team.
“Of course it is an advantage playing at home, and knowing we got through the quarters and semis last year; we’re a more experienced side now, but we can’t rely on that. Just look how hard the Sharks pushed us last weekend and this week it’s going to be even tougher,” he said.
“I suppose at the end of the day it’s going to come down to which side wants it more.”
Marx didn’t feature in last year’s 50-17 drubbing due to a neck injury, but he said it wasn’t pretty viewing from the stands. “The Hurricanes are a great side with quality individuals and I remember that on the day they were in our faces, they applied a lot of pressure. The Sharks, too, last weekend, played a pressure game and were tactically very good, but we’ll be better off this week,” Marx said.
Marx, who has been exceptional as a ball winner on the ground – he’s in fact the third best man in Super Rugby to win turn-over ball this season – is likely to come up against fit-again Canes skipper Dane Coles – a rehearsal for a potential Bok-All Black match-up later this year. “He’s a brilliant player, like many of the Hurricanes players, but we’re definitely not focusing on any individuals,” said Marx.
Both the Lions and Hurricanes will announce their team line-ups tomorrow.