Lions need to 'man up' to Glasgow - Fourie

football17 May 2024 03:00
By:Brenden Nel
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Willem Alberts of Lions © Gallo Images

The Emirates Lions may be struggling with their own injury problems ahead of the crucial clash against Vodacom United Rugby Championship leaders Glasgow Warriors on Saturday, but they know they need to man up if they are to keep their Top eight hopes alive.

Their defence will be crucial against a side that loves to score tries from anywhere on the field and the Lions will be banking on a performance that isn’t the inconsistent one they’ve had all season.

Defence coach Jaque Fourie admits they will face some tough times on Saturday, but is backing his side to find what they need to get the victory and keep themselves in with a hunt for Champions Cup qualification next season.

“I know Franco and the way he wants to play,” Fourie said in reference to South African-born former Springbok assistant coach Franco Smith, who has made a success of his time at the Scotstoun.

“If we can force them deeper and deeper into their own half and force them out of the way that they want to play, then any team will struggle to play.

“Physically, the first 20, 30 minutes is going to be tough for us, but we have to keep on knocking, keep on working to force them out of their system and then use our opportunities.

“We just need to man up. Our defence the last two, three games has been better. We are forcing teams into turnovers and we need to use those opportunities now. We need to stay in the system, and the opportunities will come for us to force turnovers – and then we can play.”

It won’t be easy, as Fourie knows, as Glasgow have not gotten to the top of the log without being good on attack.

“They are probably one of the top attacking sides in the competition.

“We saw their quality last week against the Bulls, the last 20 minutes that they came back. So it’s a quality side with quality players.

“We just need to man up, the opportunities will come for us to force turnovers and then we can play. We are going to have to look after our ball. We don’t want to defend for 60 or 70 per cent of the game.

“Defensively it is waiting for the right opportunity, you don’t want to give them any penalties in your half, because they will punish you.

“Our challenge is to get them out of their rhythm. Physically the first 20 minutes is going to be tough for us, but we just have to keep knocking and keep on working, forcing them out of the system and using our opportunities.”

With two games left, it is literally a must-win match for the Lions and they need their consistency now where it has failed them previously in the season.

“We’ve had a few close ones during the season that we probably look and say we had to win those games.

“But coming back to the end of the season, and now you need to still qualify for the Top Eight, we can only control what we can control and that’s the next two games.

“We need to win this game, we need to win the Stormers game and then we must see where the chips fall. If it’s going to fall in our favour or not.

“We just know that we’ve given it our best the last few games and that’s all. You have to aim for the seventh spot on the table, you can’t be eighth except if the Sharks lose against Gloucester this weekend.

“That’s another thing, we will know next weekend. If they win they take the eighth spot and then you have to be seventh or sixth, you can’t play for that eighth position.

“We can only control the controllables and that’s the next two games.”

Fourie added that the team can’t rely on altitude as teams have worked out how to handle the air pressure in Johannesburg.

“The Ospreys game we played here at altitude, we were ahead with a few points in the last 20 minutes and they just picked up the tempo,” Fourie said

“We can’t expect altitude to take us through any game anymore. We have to play, we have to make sure we do outstanding basics, put teams under pressure for 85 minutes, otherwise it is going to be a long day.

“Especially at Ellis Park, you want to start well, you want to end well and then you’ve got a good chance.”