They won’t fear playing at Ellis Park and they will also know how close they came to beating the Lions in their previous encounter in Kimberley last week
The good news for the Golden Lions ahead of this weekend’s Currie Cup semi-final against the Tafel Lager Griquas is that they are at home and will play in front of their own fans in familiar surroundings.
The bad news is that coach Ivan van Rooyen’s team haven’t been all that flash on home soil this season.
And, to make this weekend’s match all the more intriguing is the fact that Griquas have actually travelled well this year and beaten some very big teams. They won’t fear playing at Ellis Park and they will also know how close they came to beating the Lions in their previous encounter in Kimberley last week.
It’s all set up then to be one helluva semi-final come Saturday.
The Lions edged Griquas 27-26 in their make-or-break final regular-season clash last weekend to get home advantage in the semi-final this Saturday and at the same time pushed Griquas down to third, meaning Brent Janse van Rensburg’s men have to travel this week.
But, while playing in Kimberley would have been the ultimate and given Griquas their best chance of advancing to the final – and possibly hosting it – Janse van Rensburg & Co will know that the Lions haven’t been the same team at home this year as they have been in the recent past.
Earlier in the competition, Van Rooyen’s men got somewhat lucky at Ellis Park to beat the Pumas (38-37), but lost to the Blue Bulls (31-26) as well as the Sharks (30-28).
And, sure to give Griquas a boost this week will be the knowledge that they have knocked over the Sharks, 37-13 in Durban, and also the Bulls 37-15 in Pretoria. Those two away wins will stand Janse van Rensburg & Co in good stead this weekend.
It’s knockout rugby after all and whatever happened earlier in the campaign now comes to nought. All that will matter on Saturday is getting the win, and according to former Lions and Griquas player Jonthan Mokuena, it could well come down to who kicks best between the home team’s Shaun Reynolds, and Griquas No 10 and captain George Whitehead.
“Definitely … they’re both quality goal-kickers and there’s not likely to be much in this game,” said Mokuena.
“But both George and Shaun have bigger roles to play than that. They’re key to the way their teams play; George is the more tactical of the two, while Shaun likes to play flat and go at the line inside the 22-metre area. It’s going to be a wonderful game.
“Griquas have certainly got a chance to win on the road and make the final.”