MTN Lions coach John Mitchell has set his team’s targets on the Toyota Cheetahs set-piece on Friday night as the perfect way to secure victory.
The Lions are currently under pressure after a six game losing streak, which started after their victory over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein earlier in the year.
But since then, it can be argued that the Cheetahs – with an away win against the Waratahs in Sydney, and another over the Brumbies in Bloemfontein last weekend, are on a somewhat upward curve, while the Lions have remained stagnant.
Mitchell will be looking for an improved performance from his personnel, especially as they head off on their overseas tour next week.
To do this, he has targeted the Cheetah setpiece, and in particular the scrum energy of Coenie Oosthuizen, who continues to be one of the standout players in Bloemfontein.
Mitchell has brought in specialist tighthead Kevin Buys, known for his scrumming prowess, for the game, and not just to counter Oosthuizen. The same goes for Dawid de Villiers in the lineouts.
“It is not to counter the threat, it is to attack it. Kevin is technically a very good scrummager,”Mitchell said.
“ The challenge for Kevin is to go for 80 minutes and the other change is David de Villiers in the middle of the line-out. He drives the line-out better and we lost seven line-outs against the Chiefs in the first half and we need to deliver a line-out.
“This team has been deprived of their opportunities to attack because of our non performance at line-out time and David brings that composure and that decision making that is vital in that area.”
Mitchell is wary of the Cheetahs attacking abilities, and in particular Sarel Pretorius’ sniping breaks around the fringes, but believes their defensive frailties are an opportunity to exploit.
“Yeah they look like a side that basically enjoys having a crack and are doing it well. They are demonstrating good energy and enthusiasm. They leak a fair bit though, so that is encouraging. We are certainly going to have to be at our best defensively”
“He (Pretorius) certainly can change a game and we look forward to meeting him on the weekend.”
After so much promise this season, the Lions will have to do something to re-install their fans faith in their abilities, as well as their own self-confidence with a tough tour waiting.
(Article first appeared on Supersport.com and was written by Brenden Nel)
Follow Brenden on Twitter: @BrendenNel