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.
|4||Van Niekerk Cristen||Monnas|
|5||Le Roux Stephan||Monnas|
|18||Asanathi Ntlabakanye||St Stithians|