It will be a match between a well-oiled machine and a brave, enthusiastic bunch of guys when the Lions clash with the Southern Kings at Ellis Park on Sunday.
That is the view of former Springbok coach and TV analyst Nick Mallett ahead of the first Super Rugby match to be played in South Africa on a Sunday.
Last week, the Lions thrashed the Bulls 51-14, and this time it will be the Kings who attempt to tame the runaway Africa Conference 2 leaders. A rampant Lions side have won 11 of the 12 matches they have played this season, scoring 56 sparkling tries in the process.
“The problem [for the Kings] is, against the Lions, it is a well oiled machine against a brave, enthusiastic bunch of guys who try hard,” Mallett said. “The Kings have got the ability to score tries.
When Lionel Cronje is there, he always does the unusual. “Little chips ahead, and there was one very unlucky bounce that did not go their way [against the Brumbies].
“With periods of possession against the Brumbies, they created opportunities.
“You can’t criticise their tackling, and their defensive line against the Brumbies was very good. “But if you put 12 guys in a defensive line, there is space at the back.
The Lions are very good at finding it, particularly Elton Jantjies. “That is what the Lions do far better, quite frankly, than any other team in South Africa.
“The Lions have the ability to see if there is no space in front of you, then there has got to be space at the back. “If they get space at the back, then they keep it in hand and have a run at them.
That varying of attack will make it difficult for the Kings,” Mallett predicted.
Former Springbok great Naas Botha said the Kings would have to find a way of containing the Lions.
“After watching the Brumbies match [against the Kings], if you don’t get the ball and you don’t hang onto the ball, it is very difficult and you stay on the back foot,” Botha said.
“Overall, the Kings’ problem is going to be to contain the Lions. That is the problem. “Because the Lions are definitely one team that, if they do get an opportunity, they put points on the board.
“The Brumbies do not really operate like that. They like to put on a phase, and then the next phase. But they hardly penetrate the defence and get over the advantage line.
“The Lions take every opportunity, they counterattack, creating their opportunities and they get over the advantage line. Your defence needs to be strong for 80 minutes, and that is going to be a hard task,” Botha said.
The Kings name their team today, and coach Deon Davids will have some important decisions to make. Davids said his team’s preparations would not be hampered by the call-up of Chris Cloete, Andisa Ntsila, Lionel Cronje and Makazole Mapimpi to this week’s Springbok training camp.