JOHANNESBURG – The Lions are readying themselves for a big response by the Stormers when the teams meet in a highly anticipated round two Super Rugby match in Cape Town this weekend.
And so they should after the Newlands-based outfit copped a 40-3 hiding from the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld last weekend, leaving several reputations in need of restoration this week. And, a few hours after that defeat the Lions picked up a first-ever win against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires, putting them in something like seventh heaven.
The Stormers then will be hurting, and probably a little embarrassed, too, while spirits will be high in the Lions camp.
“They’re a proud franchise and a proud union, so we’re expecting a backlash from them,” said Lions attack coach Neil de Bruin about the Stormers on Tuesday. “Playing against them in Cape Town is always difficult, but they’ll be up for it even more this weekend.
“There’s a lot of pride in rugby and they’ll be going all out to prove last weekend’s performance was a miss-step. We’re going to have to be at our best. I also think we need to realise the Bulls produced something like a blitzkrieg, so we need to credit them as well.”
“We’re under no illusions that it’s going to be a very difficult match.”
De Bruin though said the win in Buenos Aires was the perfect start to the competition for his side.
“That win has certainly given us some confidence,” said De Bruin. “And it’s also given us momentum and that’s going to be key for what will be a rebound-match for the Stormers. It’s nice that we made a good start, that we registered a first away win against the Jaguares.
It was far from being a complete performance, but we’ll take it. There was a lot of heart shown by the players and to defend like the boys did at times shows there’s lots of character in this team as well.”
While the Stormers are looking for answers about what went wrong at Loftus, the Lions are trying to figure out who to pick and who to leave out this week, with the likes of experienced forwards Kwagga Smith and Stephan Lewies fit again.
De Bruin said the tactics and gameplan decided on by head coach Swys de Bruin would determine whether there would be changes made to a winning and confident combination.
“We’ll tweak the side if necessary, if the tactics call for it,” said the attack coach. “But it’s a bit of a conundrum for us because several of the young guys who played last week stuck up their hands. But that’s a nice situation for us to be in.”
One thing De Bruin is adamant about though is the Lions will have to be more switched on with ball in hand this week.
“We’ve spoken honestly to each other in the last days, we lacked fluency on attack last weekend, and we’ll have to rectify things quickly. We simply have to have a more attacking intent, and keep the ball through more phases.”