Johannesburg – Golden Lions interim coach Johan Ackermann has praised his side for turning their Currie Cup campaign around.
After the team's loss to Griquas three weeks ago, Ackermann called for consistency in their performances.
His charges answered in emphatic fashion by beating the Blue Bulls and Free State Cheetahs on the trot.
“I am very proud of the guys so far and how they handled everything, the team spirit and how they rectified things over the last two weeks after the hiccup against Griquas,” Ackermann said.
Ackermann, however, said the defending champions could not afford to drop their guard as the competition was still wide open, with the Sharks equal on 20 points with the Johannesburg side.
“The Currie Cup is quite open and quite close and everybody can beat everybody,” he said.
He added that there was little separating the teams in this year's competition, which could see the positions at the top of the log change again this weekend.
“Everybody is looking at Griquas to see if they can keep up the current form that they are in,” Ackermann said.
“We know the Bulls is a side that has come back in many situations where they had their backs against the wall.
“There are still surprises but it is all about us and how we want to play, and hopefully we can keep our form and perform well.”
He said the pressure would only build as the competition progressed over the last four weeks before the playoffs.
“The other factor is going to be how the composure will be of the sides, how we can handle the pressure going into rounds eight, nine and 10,” he said.
“At this stage I feel comfortable about where we are and hopefully we can keep on playing good rugby.”
Ackermann made one change to his side for this weekend's clash.
However, he could make further late changes to the team as there were some injury concerns.
There was uncertainty whether lock Michael Rhodes would replace the injured Hendrik Roodt, while Jaco Taute could make his return to the starting XV in the place of Alwyn Hollenbach.
Hollenbach was still nursing an injury, the Lions said, and his selection for Saturday's match would be confirmed only on Friday.
Lions team: Andries Coetzee, Deon Helberg, Lionel Mapoe, Alwyn Hollenbach/Jaco Taute, Ruan Combrinck, Elton Jantjies, Michael Bondesio, Warren Whiteley, Willie Britz, Cobus Grobbelaar, Franco Van der Merwe, Michael Rhodes/Etienne Oosthuizen, Jacobie Adriaanse, Callie Visagie, JC Janse van Rensburg (captain). Replacements: Bandise Maku, Ruan Dreyer, Etienne Oosthuizen/Ruan Botha, Jaco Kriel, Ross Cronje, Butch James, Jaco Taute/Dylan des Fountain. – Sapa