The Lions are the only team with the set-piece ability to potentially challenge the Crusaders for Super Rugby glory, Bulls coach John Mitchell believes.
Asked if there was any side who could stop the title favourites, Mitchell said the Lions’ set-piece held the key after their 38-12 win over the Bulls at the weekend.
“If you look at the two teams who have the ability to scrum and go to their maul, then the Crusaders and the Lions are the two teams who will benefit mostly,” Mitchell said.
“You don’t have to play a whole lot of flush rugby and perhaps the Crusaders are slightly better off defensively.
“If you look at the last two competitions, which have been won by linespeed teams, that is probably what’s coming in the final.”
With the Lions securing a home quarter-final, after setting up a clash against the Jaguares in Joburg this weekend, there was still plenty for which to play.
Mitchell, however, felt they would probably have to go to Christchurch in order to win the tournament.
“The Lions and the Crusaders are the best in terms of their scrum and they can dictate performance through that,” he said.
Mitchell, meanwhile, questioned referee Marius van der Westhuizen’s performance in terms of consistency in his team’s last match of the campaign.
“When there were rucks the referee seemed to blow us up quickly, whereas they were allowed to play it out, but that’s something I will take up with the referee,” he said.
“I might just have to reserve my judgment for the right protocol and process.”
Mitchell nonetheless credited the Lions for a fine performance, admitting the scoreline was a true reflection.
“We have a lot of youth in the group and not a lot of luck went our way.
It’s a cruel game sometimes.
“We lost some momentum shifts but the Lions are very good in the last 30 metres of the field. Their maul is still very good and a huge weapon for them.
“I just thought we were inaccurate in our attack in the second half. We tended to overplay the ball in certain positions when a teammate was in a better position.”