While the Lions still have to get past the struggling Griquas in their last home game at Ellis Park this weekend, they require but a single point to book their flight for next weekend’s semis.
But the Lions will sleep restlessly with the possible return of brilliant Bok wing Willie le Roux, right, to the Griquas’ ranks.
With all the Springboks returning to their provinces, the Lions can only call on the services of lock Franco van der Merwe, who earned his first cap off the bench against the All Blacks on the weekend.
If the Sharks manage to dish out a first defeat to Western Province this weekend, it will not only secure top spot for them but will also, most likely, mean another trip to Cape Town, where they lost 36-23 last weekend – and Province were without their returning Bok players.
But there will be enough food for thought for Lions’ coach Johan Ackermann from last weekend’s loss, with his team crawling their way back to 23-28 with 15 minutes left.
The Lions have earned a reputation as a “second-half team”, something that has frustrated Ackermann hugely, and saw their early 6-0 lead turned around for a huge 28-9 deficit five minutes after the break.
Other worries for Ackermann include the knock that Willie Britz, who played at lock last weekend, took to his knee, while prop CJ van der Linde pulled out prior to the game and was replaced by Julian Redelinghuys.
Their scrum was also of concern as tighhead Ruan Dreyer was under immense pressure from Western Province loosehead Steven Kitshoff for large parts of the game.