So the mighty Golden Lions are sitting sixth on the Currie Cup log after six matches – a point behind Western Province who are currently occupying fifth place, which is a spot below the last play-off spot – with two rounds of matches to go.
This is worrying, considering that the these very Lions are the current defending champions who also had a very memorable Super Rugby season that ended just last month – finishing second after losing out to the Hurricanes in Wellington in the final. But as things stand, they don’t even look like a team that will make it to the play-offs, if their inconsistent form is anything to go by.
In the last few years of the Currie Cup, it was unimaginable that the Griquas could beat any of the ‘big teams’, i.e. the Lions, Western Province or even the Sharks, but it happened this season, when the Kimberley outfit handed the so-called Pride of Jozi their first Currie Cup defeat in 13 outings!
In case you don’t understand just how big a deal that was: 12 of those 13 games are last season’s entire campaign, when the Lions won the golden trophy unbeaten in the 10 regular season matches, and finished it off with a defeat of the Cheetahs in the semis before getting their sweet revenge on the 2014 champions, the Western Province (who had won it beating the Lions in the final) in a second consecutive final between the two in Jo’burg.
Such has been the shocking form of the Joburgers this season. I know some might be quick to jump to their defense and remind me that they are missing nine of their key players who are currently on national duty with the Springboks, including two of their captains in Warren Whiteley and Jaco Kriel, as well as their seasoned winger, Courtnall Skosan, due to injury; but I don’t think that’s a good enough excuse when you consider that they had nine regular first-team players in the starting line-up in their recent loss to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
And an embarrassing loss it was; the Lions had it all going their way in the first half and even had a more than comfortable lead of 18 points at some point, only for them to let the Cheetahs back into it and eventually lose it by 37-29.
This Lions team is a far cry from the one that ran over Super Rugby powerhouses like the Crusaders and the Highlanders just last month in the world’s premier club rugby competition, and I therefore don’t see them even coming close to defending their title – a sad anti-climax to their year after such a promising start, it would be.
Their next match is on Saturday, 24 September, against the Eastern Province Kings at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium.
* Featured image by: telegraph.co.uk.