glimmer of hope for lions

IT WAS an all too familiar start to another Super 14 campaign when the Lions went down 13-26 to the Stormers at Ellis Park on Saturday, but it is not something coach Dick Muir will dwell on for too long.

IT WAS an all too familiar start to another Super 14 campaign when the Lions went down 13-26 to the Stormers at Ellis Park on Saturday, but it is not something coach Dick Muir will dwell on for too long.

Of more importance to him and his team is Friday night's match against New Zealand's Chiefs.

A win is vital for the Lions before undertaking a five-week tour to Australasia and the second-half display by the men in red did show a glimmer of hope.

"It doesn't help that we scored more points in the second half. The positives are there to build on," Muir told Sowetan yesterday.

A disappointing first half, during which they conceded seven penalties, is something the coach is confident will not be repeated.

"You just can't afford to give away that number of penalties. It's something we have worked on at training and discussed off the field, so this week we expect a major improvement."

With a relatively inexperienced team - eight players made their Super 14 debuts last week - Muir has pretty much kept his faith in the same starting XV. Bar the replacement of Jonathan Mokuena and Jacques Lombard for Todd Clever and Derick Minnie respectively the side is unchanged.

Clever has proved in the past to be handy around the fringe of play and his extra metre of pace will be most welcome at the breakdown.

After a nervous beginning, 19-year-old winger Wandile Mjekevu keeps his place.

"We see huge potential in Wandile and he did enough against the Stormers to warrant another start. He's still very young and we will guide him," Muir said.

The Chiefs, on the other hand, were lucky to escape with a narrow 19-18 win against the Sharks last Saturday and will be a handful. Kickoff is at 8pm.

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