Are The Lions The Favourites?

The Craven Week is approaching fast and most of the sides were already on training camps or will go when the schools close, for most at the end of the week. The Lions have not "won" the Craven Week since 2005 when they won against Eastern Province 38-15. With 3 of the top 10 ranked schools in South Africa part of the Lions setup, it is no wonder that there is a quiet optimism within their ranks.  

The scrums anchored by the iron man himself Keegan Glade proved more than adequate in their matches played as preparation and although R Oosthuizen's inclusion at loosehead was a surprise to some he showed that there is a lot of fire in his belly but which also need to be managed.

The two locks of Monnas combined with captain Gordon Travis will ensure a steady flow of ball from line-outs, but Dameon Venter's superior throwing capabilities in the lineout are of a high standard and he will have to be the choice when coming against a quality line out outfit.  Mark Snyman at 6 will provide more than enough turnover ball. Mark has impressed me more and more this year and must be the best no 6 in the country.  

The backline of the Lions might be a problem if their forwards do not dominate up front. And this is the only concern of this team. Their attacking abilities is beyond doubt but my concern is in defence where other teams will quickly identify this shortcoming. Place kicking with Kennedy Mpeku and Luke Rossouw who are both very successful and accomplished kickers should not be a worry.

The Lions have a balanced squad with hard boys in Kwagga van Niekerk, Dameon Venter, Keegan Glade and PJ Jacobs that will soften any opponents onslaught better than Stasoft can ever do. Combined that with Monnas flyhalf Luke Rossouw a ten man game plan can be executed perfectly and close games can be won.

If required a more open game plan can be played with brilliant ball carriers up front like Morne Brandon, Stephan Le Roux, Mark Snyman and Travis Gordon. The mainly KES backline strengthened by Helpmekaar's David Cary and Swanepoel from Florida should at least be one of the best attacking backlines at the Craven Week.

Can they win? Yes, but management and selection of the right players for the opponents at hand will be crucial.

  Golden Lions  
  Name School
1 Oosthuizen R Florida
2 Brandon Morne Monnas
3 Glade Keegan KES
4 Van Niekerk Cristen Monnas
5 Le Roux Stephan Monnas
6 Snyman Mark Helpmekaar
7 Jacobs PJ Monnas
8 Gordon Travis KES
9 Combrinck Tinus Monnas
10 Morrison Marc KES
11 Swanepoel T Florida
12 Hlalu Yanga KES
13 Mpeku Leon KES
14 Cary David Helpmekaar
15 Mpeku Kennedy KES
16 Venter Dameon Helpmekaar
17 Masuku Nkosikhona Parktown
18 Asanathi Ntlabakanye St Stithians
19 Litchfield Kegan Jeppe
20 Schutte Franco Monnas
21 Rossouw Luke Monnas
22 Hayward Tyler KES
23 Manyike Muzi Jeppe

5 thoughts on “Are The Lions The Favourites?

  1. This year the Lions, WP, Cheetahs and Boland are grouped together in the Monday group. So the final on Saturday will see them face either the Bulls or KZN (Playing each other on Tuesday) with maybe the EP or SWD as the surprise?
    Strange grouping but maybe the Bulls to play in their first final in years?

  2. If they will win it only time will tell. This is a team selected with some of the most talented players in the Lions region currently. Some boys might be unlucky to have not been selected but taking all the selection criteria into consideration I believe they did well. I to have my concern regarding the backline.

    In none if the pre craven week games have the backline been tested. They are great on attack with going forward ball. This will not always be the case during CW. In defence I am concerned. I know most of these player well and even at school level have some questions with their defence.

    I do however believe that they should make the final. WP in with a running and the always the Free State.

  3. I do think the Lions with successful and top10 sides Monnas & KES combined probably have the most balanced squad, especially strong in the forwards. WP will always be up there & Greystaat could cause some surprises, but for me the dark horses are my own KZN boytjies, led by Pepsi Buthelezi (DHS loose forward), Dylan Richardson (Kearsney loose forward), Sanele Nohamba (DHS scrumhalf) & JJ van der Mescht (Glenwood lock), all making SA sides in 2016, either Academy or 7’s. Combined with powerhouse prop Rocky Knox (Michaelhouse), immensely improved Laubscher (Glenwood – lineout supremo), speedy centre turned flank Dylan Kruger (Glenwood), hooker turned tighthead prop Brendon Schwultz (Glenwood) the team is looking well balanced too. The backs know each other well, mostly Glenwood & DHS combined. Speed won’t be lacking in that most of them run the 100m under 11secs. Cele at fullback is small but once going can shred teams apart, he just seems to be able to find gaps and run into them at immense speed. KZN always seem to disappoint at CW so hopefully they finally play to their potential. Another big factor is if they can get JJ van der Mescht fit and firing. He has disappointed this season to date, maybe still trying to shake off a leg injury from earlier in the year. He seems to be jogging to rucks and mauls & not jumping too much in lineouts. If he can get going & find the mongrel he needs to be successful, he could cause havoc. In the past he was the 5th quickest in the entire Glenwood squad over 60m and weighing in at 130kg he is like a human missile. What many people miss with him is his silky passing and ball skills. The depth of the squad will be key as you need to win on day 2 to get the final and all players need to have a run. I do feel KZN have a really realistic chance of upsetting a few carts…go Banana Boys!

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