The Lions remarkable revival in the Absa Currie Cup in recent weeks has been mirrored by the steep decline of the Vodacom Blue Bulls.
While the Lions are arguably the form team in the competition at the moment, the Bulls just can’t get it right and are in danger of missing out on the semi-finals.
The Lions on the other hand are playing irresistible rugby and are just one win away from breaking into the top four. But for that to happen they need the Bulls to lose at the same time. The Lions are fifth on the log on 26 points, while the Bulls are still clinging to fourth place on 30 points. They also have a far superior points difference.
Both teams are expected to get five points from this weekend’s matches. The Bulls play the Pumas at Loftus Versfeld, while the Lions make the short trip to Brakpan to play the Valke.
Next week though could be the turning point for both teams. The Lions host Griquas in a game they should win comfortably considering their current form. The Bulls face a tricky assignment against the Sharks in Durban. And with two rounds left it could then see the Lions take the inside lane for the last remaining spot.
“I’m not entirely sure of the permutations at this point,” Lions coach Eugene Eloff told keo.co.za. “At the moment we are just taking it game by game. Despite everything, we are still behind in the race. If we can win all of our games then maybe we have a chance.”
“I’m just very happy that our plan is slowly coming together. At this point I must compliment my assistant coaches for a sterling job. There support has been crucial during the tough times. Everyone behind the scenes is making a huge effort.”
Forwards coach Leon Boshoff and backs coach Wimpie Vermeulen are obviously doing something right. The Lions pack is slowly becoming a real force in the competition, while the backs are playing with a freedom last seen at Ellis Park ages ago.
The best illustration was the try finished by right wing Wylie Human and superbly crafted by fullback Earl Rose. It was a pity there were no television cameras at the game against the Cheetahs on Friday night.
That try would surely be a contender for the best of the year. “Earl is a brilliant player and he is getting more and more confidence with each outing. He has grown into his role well.”
By Andrew Hollely