Vodacom Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus was not surprised by the Lions victory over the Chiefs on Saturday.
And he expects the Lions to be formidable opponents when the two clash in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Erasmus’ side must beat the Lions at Ellis Park to reach the semi-finals of the competition the first time since 2004. The Lions are rooted at the bottom of the log, but last Saturday they made their intentions clear by surprising the 7th-placed Chiefs.
That result, however, didn’t come as a surprise to the Stormers coach. “Certain teams’ strengths complement other team’s weaknesses and I think that was a typical example.
“The strength of the Lions is the breakdown and how well they compete there. The strength of the Chiefs is turnover ball and the Chiefs didn’t get a lot of turnover ball because the Lions were awesome at the breakdown.
“We kind of predicted that result and the game between the Sharks and the Chiefs will be a very interesting one this weekend.”
Erasmus made it clear they are aware of the magnitude of the task awaiting them at Ellis Park. “For us it’s a huge challenge with the way the Lions performed on Saturday and in a few other games earlier this season.”
The coach said the draw with the Waratahs on Saturday at a wet and windy Newlands would not have a negative effect on the team spirit.
“We are definitely not down and out. We are fourth on the log and it is in our hands. If we win the next game, which is going to be a helluva tough game, and keep the points difference the same and everything goes against us we still end fourth on the log.
“In the first year as a group together that is not too bad. Obviously there are many permutations and maybe we can end third. It’s a relatively successful season so far.
“But obviously we have to go to Joburg and play the Lions, who play at altitude and have settled in for a week now after their trip overseas.
“On Saturday you could see in the last 10, 15 minutes they suffered a bit from jetlag, but they won’t have that problem against us.”
The Stormers start their preparation for the Lions game on Monday, with injury concerns over wing Wylie Human (rib) and prop Brok Harris (shoulder). Erasmus was confident though that both would be fit to be considered for selection.