Durban – Sharks assistant coach Ricardo Loubscher says the Lions pose a serious challenge ahead of Saturday’s Super Rugby clash at Kings Park.
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The previous encounter between the sides resulted in a 42-5 victory for the Sharks at Ellis Park in April, but the Sharks expect a different Lions challenge this weekend.
“We know it’s going to be tough against a quality side that loves playing attacking rugby,” Loubscher told the Sharks’ official website. “We expect a physical match, South African derbies always are, but the players are in a good space and took some nice momentum from the tour. We’ll be looking to take that momentum into the next four games.”
On tour, the Sharks beat the Waratahs 23-15 in their opening tour game in Sydney, before drawing 21-all with the Crusaders in Christchurch and losing 29-23 to the Chiefs in Hamilton.
“Like us, the Lions will be preparing as well as they can for this game but we will also be looking to build on the momentum we gained out of the tour, there’s a good spirit within the team and the players came back from the bye with lots of energy. The vibe in the camp is great at the moment,” Loubscher added.
Last weekend at Ellis Park, the Lions had their work cut out, but eventually saw off the visiting Highlanders, a 38-29 victory securing a hard-earned result and a warning that they are a competitive side.
“There were a lot of points scored in that match, we know that’s how they prefer to play, so we expect them to come to Durban with that same attacking DNA,” Loubscher explained.
“Both teams love to play ball-in-hand rugby and it’s about who is clinical on the day, who takes their opportunities. But it’s going to take an 80-minute effort from us.
“From our side, it’s all about making sure we prepare and prepare well. Our focus is to bring lots of energy to this week’s preparations. I think it’s going to be an exciting challenge… the players and coaching staff can’t wait for Saturday.”
Both teams will be eager to win, as only a point separates them in the South African Conference, with the Lions in third position on 30 points and the Sharks fourth on 29 points.
Loubscher however stressed: “Right now we don’t see this as a must-win time in our campaign, it’s really about enjoyment, about going out there and playing for your team-mates and the guy next to you.
“It’s going to come down to the bounce of the ball – hopefully in our favour – and we know it’s going to be tough. It’s also about taking your opportunities.”
Both team line-ups will be confirmed on Thursday, with kick-off scheduled for 17:15 on Saturday.